The days of the chlorine waters may soon be behind us

Anyone who has flown over Johannesburg will tell you that the most noticeable aspect of the urban fabric are the bright blue blocks that dot the suburban landscape – hundreds of swimming pools in one of Africa’s most drought-prone countries. They’re an inseparable part of middle-class South African life – so much so that one of South Africa’s most infamous claims to fame is the invention of the Kreepy Krawly, an automatic pool cleaner, and that’s not to mention the ‘pool noodle’.

But despite the enormous effort that the blue pool takes to upkeep in a South African climate, the environmentally frightening effects of blue pool chemicals on the surrounding environs, and the vast spatial inequalities that private pools seem to embody, they are still being built. Is it time we re-envision the way the pool is designed?

Natural pools have been popular in Europe for many years, but slowly their practical and, increasingly, aesthetic qualities are gaining traction around the world. The fundamental difference, as a fascinating article on website Apartment Therapy suggests, between a green pool and a run-of-the-mill swimming pool lies in how it’s filtered. “In a green pool, a pump circulates the water through either a gravel filter or a plant filter, which keeps the water clean without the need for chemicals.”

One of the best parts about natural pool design is that it doesn’t need to involve the very heavy labour typically associated with fibreglass and cast concrete pools. People can dig their own pools, and plant the right, relatively inexpensive plants, and create a beautiful pool that also functions as a pond in the winter, without the need for those unsightly plastic pool covers.

This article on Mother Earth News gives some excellent tips for the beginner trying to test the natural pool waters. We can’t wait to get our feet wet while rehabilitating the natural environment.