In the interview landscape architect Claudia Schwarzer reflects on her work with biological pools, which have been a story of success for 25 years.
Is water important to you because …? … I’ve always loved water, and I love swimming. In my childhood I played a lot with and near the water and dreamed of the possibility of swimming right from my bedroom window.
What was the first biological pool that you designed? Relatively modern and relatively sophisticated, due to the configuration, diversity of materials and modern equipment such as solar pump and biofilter that we use. This project, on the other hand, was born in close cooperation with the client, like all the others to follow as well.
What distinguishes designs from the early days from today? The difficulty of arranging certain materials, such as high quality liner, resistant wood, technical equipment. Today we can design very elaborate projects and make ‘never seen’ dreams come true. And the marvelous SHB team that executes all of our projects is very dedicated and professional.
If you could travel back in time, where would you go? At the Golden 20th of last century, Hotel Palace da Curia on its opening day. At this time, the hotel’s beautiful swimming pool, shaped like a transatlantic, in a unique and extravagant design, worked only with natural water from the Rio Cértima. So, almost a biopool … I would have liked to have experienced this.
What are the three words that characterize your current style? Individual, natural, very well framed in the place / landscape.
Do you have favorite materials? Stone, especially granite, natural wood and aquatic plants.
Is there anything typical and distinctive about your biological pools? At first glance, maybe not, because the shapes vary a lot, from the architectural design to the very natural. But each project is based on a bio-based design, since the beginning of our activity exclusively with indigenous plants, the basis of a deep scientific knowledge of water quality and the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
Who or what most influenced your work? Portugal with its splendid nature, natural beauty and beautiful landscapes of great diversity.
What does beauty mean to you? I would like to cite the philosopher Immanuel Kant: Beauty is the experience of liveliness.
What is the intangible salary for your job? We are grateful to have the privilege of creating living spaces. The satisfaction of our customers with the design, with the finished work counts a lot. See the charm of our customers with the carried out project , which is not just a construction, but a living space. All of this is revealed with the natural pleasure of the first bath, the first frog that appears, the first water lily to bloom, the dragonflies to hunt above the water and much more. It is like a window that opens and suddenly we can see nature. It’s indescribable!
What do you like most about your work? Cooperation in the design phase with our customers and bathing. I tried almost all the biological pools we designed along the years and each project carried out is a source of inspiration for my work.
Your vision for the future of biological pools? On the one hand, we will continue to accept invitations to create beautiful designs for challenging sites. In the past years we have managed to carry out projects of extraordinary beauty. What enchants me in this context is that each project has the potential to become the most beautiful biological pool yet.
We will continue with the biological pools in Portugal, they are already a success story, since 25 years. And I think that the future of swimming pools is definitely bio!