It’s this beautiful living water that natural pools contain; water that is filtered only by natural systems; through the root systems of aquatic plants that feed from the water’s nutrients.
So often, the pools built in residential settings are those designed to be kept clean with an array of chemicals. While they provide a water experience, they do not provide the true refreshing feeling of swimming in nature, within a natural aquatic ecosystem.
It was this concept that drew German-trained landscape architect Alex Traut to the idea of creating natural and living pools in New Zealand about 15 years ago. Then, it was a novel concept, although one which had been around for some time in Europe. Alex was the first person outside Europe to build natural pools.
Now, he’s far from alone with around 80 partner networks around the globe, including one in Melbourne and one in Perth.
In New Zealand, the numbers are quickly growing as people yearn for more natural experiences in the home. “We’ve done about 30 natural pools in New Zealand now, everywhere from Queenstown to Auckland,” Alex says. “People love them because they are completely natural.
"They describe the water as having a unique softness. When you come out of the water you are refreshed. It is a very different experience to swimming in a pool of chemicals, or in saltwater.”
“Your skin is soft, you don’t get sore eyes, and because it’s natural water, it’s good for those who have allergies in chemically-treated water.”
Natural pools incorporate a ‘regeneration zone’, which is an area separate from the swimming section of the pool, most commonly separated with a submerged wall. Within this zone, aquatic plants are planted into clay that is then covered with stones. These plants work as they do in nature; they oxygenate the water and, along with microorganisms, act as living filters and organic cleansers, naturally and continually filtering the water.
“Aquatic plants vary from area to area, but in general, you can use most types of plants including water lilies and reeds. Obviously, what grows locally in the area is generally best. Oioi is a native aquatic plant that is great for natural pools in many settings,” Alex says.
Similar to natural pools, are living pools. These are closer in design to traditional pools yet are organic, without the regeneration zone required in natural pools with live flora and fauna. In a living pool, an underground bio filter and a phosphorous filter provide biological and physiological purification of the water, continuously keeping it clear and alive.