From the June/July 2013 Issue:

Pool With A View

    Writer: Robin Amster | Photographer: John Martinelli | Architect: David Donachy, AIA | Builder: Hartman & Shiffer Builders | Landscape Design: Depenbrock Design | Swimming Pool: Waterscapes |

The design of a Moorestown backyard is based on the surrounding wetlands

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enlarge | In front of the curving brick front of the pool is a gorgeous view of wetland grasses and trees. When viewed from the opposite end—where the blue umbrellas are—the pool appears to have an infinity edge.
A Moorestown architect transformed a sloping backyard that had only a bluestone terrace into a stunning arrangement of pool, pool house and sitting areas that mesh perfectly with the style of the owners’ large Cape Cod-style home.

David Donachy, a member of the American Institute of Architects and owner of David?Donachy Architect, says the driving force behind the design of the backyard was simply the view. “The pool and pool house overlook wetlands, grasses and trees,” he says. “We didn’t want the pool area to focus on something that didn’t make sense. We went through quite a few designs, but that view became the focal point.”

Like all of his work, Donachy’s goal for the complex was to make it look as if it had always been there. With that in mind, he designed the major elements to mesh with the style of the home. Cement shakes on the pool house, for example, fit with the home’s cedar shakes. The brick of the pool is the same as the brick at the base of the house.

A pergola and its columns also echo the style of the house, while a cupola was added atop the pool house to give the structure a nautical flare. At 500 square feet, the pool house isn’t so large that it overwhelms the outdoor space, Donachy says. It houses a bar, television, changing area and toilet.

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enlarge | The pool house design incorporates elements taken from the Cape Cod-style home, including shakes on the roof, the pergola and columns.
Valuable Input
The homeowner was a major creative force in the project, Donachy says. She suggested the blue-and-yellow flower tile mosaic that makes up a triptych in the pool house’s outdoor bar and is repeated in the design of the wall of the spa and in the water features nestled in the brick piers of the pool. The tile features are the work of an out-of-state artist who shipped the creation to New Jersey for mounting in place.

All of the project’s design elements combine into a whole that fits the style and spirit of the home, Donachy says. “This is the kind of thing you study in architecture school, where everything ties together,” he says. “It’s like the work of Frank Lloyd Wright with everything from the door hardware to the artwork tied into one.”

As enjoyable as the project was, it wasn’t without challenges. A considerable slope necessitated a great deal of foundation work to build up the ground for construction. He credits a team of builder, structural engineer, landscape designer and swimming pool company, along with his role as architect, with finding solutions. Due to the slope of the property, the team decided to house pool equipment in a basement below the pool house while keeping it accessible from the rear yard. “There’s a lot you don’t see in this project,” he says.

The pool complex is the first part of a three-phase project. Phase two will be an extension at the back of the house for a new indoor dining room, while phase three will involve renovation of the home’s interior.

Robin Amster is as Madison-based editor and writer.


Pool and pool house complex design, David Donachy Architect in Moorestown; builder, Hartman & Shiffer Builders in Moorestown; structural engineer, Tom Kulp of PMH Associates in Moorestown; landscape design, Depenbrock Design in Moorestown; swimming pool, Waterscapes in Cin­na­min­son; mosaic feature, Phoenician Arts in Naperville, Illinois.

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