Even an artist's fantasy requires practical pool-building techniques.
Builders like to tell stories about their most unusual or interesting projects, but this one from Queensland, Australia would be hard to beat.
The project required the creation of a vinyl-liner pool inside a major art gallery, which would appear to all viewers as a pristine lake surrounded by pure white sand. Around this lake, artist Cai Guo-Qiang would then position 99 life-size animals preparing to drink, all part of a major exhibition called, "Heritage," meant to evoke the idea of all creatures sharing resources.
It fell to Tom Stanley from Redlands Pool Service in Brisbane to build this beautiful blue indoor lake and maintain it for the length of the exhibition. According to the story in Pool + Spa Review, Stanley had to contend with a host of imponderables, such as the effect of water vapor/sanitizer on the museum's HVAC system and the access route for materials being moved to the site, to name just two.
But with 18 months of diligent planning and engineering approvals, followed by three months' construction requiring 820 linear feet of plumbing, the 45,000-gallon lake was finished.
"The engineering approvals and the logistic nature of the complex made the job challenging," Stanley told Pool + Spa Review. "Most of the materials had to be brought up to the gallery level in the lift, a very slow process when there were up to 30 or more people working on the display, including carpenters, painters, lighting technicians, artists and electricians."
In order to meet the strict aesthetic demands of the artist, the vinyl-liner pool surface had to be as perfect as a dream. Two liners were used — the first was laid over a wood frame, and then a second layered on top.
In terms of sanitization and filtration, the pool works like any other, using a chlorine feeder, pump and two cartridge filters. However, due to artistic considerations, the pool surface was to appear as unbroken as a clear natural lake — therefore, no skimmers, visible inlets/outlets or fittings — so a battery operated automatic pool cleaner did the dirty work.
As one might imagine, when a builder steps out of his comfort zone to do a pool as outlandish as this, some anxiety is involved.
"The biggest hurdle of this job was just to be able to guarantee to the [museum] staff that it was going to work," Stanley said. "I just had to visualize and use my 16 years' experience in servicing and building in the pool industry to ensure it did. Once the project was up and running, I felt a large sense of satisfaction that all of the hard work I had put in had paid off."