Natural Pools: Small Ecosystems for Leisure

Natural pools are another way to increase the connection with nature. They can also be used as a contemplative and recreational space. They are also known as biological or ecological pools. They reproduce an ecosystem made up of plants, rocks, and some fish species.

The pool water is treated with a natural treatment, which is free from chemicals. Its operation is very similar to a natural lake in that each component serves a specific purpose. Stones and sand are used to retain impurities. Plants promote oxygenation, fish help to clean the water and remove insects and larvae. The natural pool is self-cleaning and natural agents remove the need to use chemical products. This creates a self-sufficient and economic maintenance cycle that is sustainable, economical, and long-lasting.

Refúgio / NWLND Rogiers Vandeputte. © Johnny Umans

Natural pools can replace traditional tiles and chlorine buckets. They require an excavation minimum of 1.50m deep. To retain water, a rubber blanket and geotextile cover are applied immediately after excavation. Natural pools are usually made of a white sand base, which can include natural stones like pebbles.

A kind of artificial lake was made in the MS House project by Studio Arthur Casas to show how practical applications can be done. It covers the entire building and helps to alleviate the harsh climate in the interior of Sao Paulo. The lake is full of plants and fish, and it transforms into a natural pool near the social area of house.

Casa MS / Studio Arthur Casas. © Ricardo Labougle

They are already present in many residential projects in the USA and Europe, but this system is new to Brazil. Brazilian companies that specialize in installing natural pools say that there is a high demand for crystallinity. To achieve this goal, filtration systems are installed that target large dirt particles such as leaves. This prevents the water from becoming cloudy. Hydraulic pumps can also be used to aid in water flow. They are 30% more energy efficient than conventional pools. Natural pools also have the advantage of being easy to maintain. They don’t require any chemical components and can only be changed once every six months. The water from a natural pool can also be used for irrigation. This promotes partial exchange and eliminates the need for a cistern.

Pavilhão de Apoio de Piscina Natural / Gaudenzi Arquitetura. Cortesia de Gaudenzi Arquitetura

The project Boathouse was created by Indian firm Architectonica Procreate. It is a natural swimming pool that has been built using the aquaponics system. Its delicate ecosystem includes aquatic plants, fish and migratory bird species. The architecture of the pool is silent witness to this evolution.

Casa Barco / Architectonica Procreate. © Noaidwin Studio

Canada was the first country to use the natural pool. It was used for the construction of Borden Park’s public swimming pool, which can accommodate 400 people. In this daring system, filtration is done in two ways: through a biological-mechanical system or through the crushed stone and gravel filter built in situ with the Zooplankton.

Piscina Natural do Parque Borden / gh3*. Cortesia de gh3
Piscina Natural do Parque Borden / gh3*. Cortesia de gh3
Diagrama Piscina Natural do Parque Borden / gh3*. Cortesia de gh3
Diagrama Piscina Natural do Parque Borden / gh3*. Cortesia de gh3

Although they are more expensive than traditional pools and require more skilled labor, natural pools can be an attractive alternative that will help to improve the local ecosystems. Numerous studies have already shown that contact with nature can be beneficial for humans and reduce stress levels.

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