If you have been anywhere around the internet in April, you’ve probably seen this video of a glass bottom pool in Texas.
The sky pool, featured in the video, is located at the Market Square Tower in Houston, Texas, and features 8 1/2 inches of monolithic cast acrylic. It was designed and built by Hammerhead International, a company that specializes in building aquatic habitats and transparent pools like that at the sky pool.
“We’ve gotten probably a dozen phone calls from it,” says Jason Jovaag, CEO of Hammerhead International. Despite the lack of exploding fame from the video, Jovaag reports Hammerhead’s expansion into the pool industry approximately four years before the video’s circulation. As of May, Hammerhead is building five to 10 pools a month from offices in both Las Vegas, Nev., and Florida.
“A lot of the projects of that magnitude takes some time to develop,” Jovaag says. “That project specifically was under development for about a year before final drawings were put together. And then the window was put into fabrication. Those jobs take a little bit longer to actually get into for the installation to take place.”
There is not much difference between building an aquatic habitat and building a transparent pool. “Typically, the zoo and aquarium structures are more out of a cast-in-place concrete, where we’re dealing with gunite and shotcrete for the residential pools,” Jovaag says. “It’s just a different prep method as far as the window being installed for the waterproofing system.”
The average thickness for a residential transparent pool is between 2 and 4 inches. That may not sound thick, but Jovaag has never had a transparent wall catastrophically fail. Acrylic panels have strong edges, unlike their glass counterparts, which can withstand the hydrostatic pressure applied by the pool water.
“One rule I establish for my company is we won’t put regular, tempered laminated glass into a swimming pool,” Javaag says. “I don’t think that it has the strength that the monolithic cast acrylic does. Glass is great for other applications but not necessarily for this.”
Transparent pools are not isolated to the high-range market, which means even mid-range budgets can achieve similar results. A standard-shaped pool that requires standard-issue acrylic panels keep costs affordable.
“Our projects range from $1,500 on up into close to $1 million,” Jovaag says. “We try to make it as affordable as possible depending on, obviously, what the client’s budget is and what their design is. There are standard panels we try to incorporate into their designs which make it more affordable.”
Obviously, something that pushes the boundaries of pool design, such as the sky pool in the video above, is higher-end than the average backyard pool. But pool design doesn’t have to reach ten feet from the edge of a skyscraper to push design limits.
“I think it’s great that people are expanding what the capabilities are and pushing the design envelope for us to create some of these things,” Jovaag says. “These types of things are pushing the boundaries of what pool design is and bringing that extra wow factor to what would have been a normally tiled or standard negative-edge wall.”