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Design Differences: Indoor vs Outdoor Pools

Besides the obvious fact that indoor pools are built inside of a building while outdoor pools are built outside, there are many additional differences between them that need to be considered during the design process.

When it comes to outdoor pool design, one of the biggest things to consider is seasonal changes and how they might affect the operations of the pool or facility. For instance, if temperatures fall below freezing, the pool will need to be winterized to prevent pipes from breaking. The materials the pool is made out of will also need to be able to handle the sun’s UV rays and other weather conditions. Choosing the appropriate type of material can significantly prolong the life of the pool, making this an important area of design. Some indoor pools receive a small amount of UV rays, but usually nowhere near as much as outdoor pools.

BlueWater YMCA professional (1)

Typically, indoor pools have a tiled deck finish, whereas outdoor pools usually have a concrete deck. Some concrete decks have artistic designs to them, and can even use a splash of stain, which adds to the look and feel of the environment.

Diving boards and platforms require clearances to maintain visitor safety. Considering these clearances while designing can inform decisions surrounding ceiling height, hanging light fixtures, duct-work and other surrounding equipment for indoor facilities with diving boards. It is important to check with state and local building codes to ensure all required diving board clearances are met.

Lighting is something else to consider. While outdoor pools use the sun as its source of lighting, indoor pools must use hanging lights, wall lights or underwater lights to illuminate the natatorium. If an outdoor pool will be open after the sun goes down, it will obviously also require light poles and potentially underwater lights as well. Underwater lights can also add a bit of elegance to the pool. Like diving board clearance, the lighting system should also be adequate per state and local health codes.

Bavarian Inn (1)Water slides are a staple of both indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities, but there is more flexibility when it comes to outdoor water slides. Typically, outdoor projects allow for a greater number of water slides, as you don’t have to worry about blowing your budget by increasing the building size to accommodate several slides. A trend that Counsilman-Hunsaker is beginning to see are water slides that exit and reenter buildings through the wall before exiting into a pool or runout. This utilizes both indoor and outdoor space and helps eliminate the need for a larger building. It also adds a mysterious and intriguing aesthetic to your facility design.

One of the most important elements associated with designing indoor pools as opposed to outdoor pools is structural support. An indoor pool could be elevated on the 13th floor of a building. It could even be partially overhanging the side of the building, similar to the pool at the Joule Hotel. These types of pools require additional design consideration and will need to be encased and waterproofed. Should the pool ever leak, the water needs to be drained appropriately, rather than leak down to the floor below.

These are just a handful of choices that need to be made when considering the design of indoor and outdoor pools. As you may be thinking, there is a lot of liability involved in the design process of a swimming pool. It is always a good idea to get an experienced team of aquatic professionals behind you to help make these decisions. Learn more about Counsilman-Hunsaker by checking out our Portfolio of work!

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