ISSUE 14  |  Less Is More

Landscape Architect Visit: Bernard Trainor’s Most Beautiful Swimming Pool

April 07, 2014 1:30 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

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Monterey, California-based landscape architect Bernard Trainor once quoted one of his design influences, the Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, in an interview for Garden Design magazine: “I see simplicity not so much as a disregard for complexity,” he said, “but as the clarification of the significant.” 

High on a pristine hill near Monterey, clients of Bernard Trainor + Associates wanted a swimming pool to accompany the landscape around their new home. Trainor sunk a long, narrow pool into the earth and surrounded it tightly with native grasses and wildflowers. He then undertook an extensive restorative planting project to establish a seamless connection between the new plantings and the native plant communities surrounding the site.

Why did we choose a home with a 75-foot lap pool and million-dollar California views as an illustration of simplicity? Let’s take a look around: 

Love to look at pools? For more photographs of our favorites, see our Swimming Pools archive.

Photography by Jason Liske

Above: The swimming pool is unexpected but at ease among the grass and wildflowers. 

Above: Seen from the house designed by Kotas/Pantaleoni Architects, the pool almost disappears into the land. A wall of glass overlooks the pool and landscape.

Above: In his book Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor, the designer writes: “If you can’t always tell what I’ve done, that’s fine. I want my gardens to connect seamlessly with surrounding plant communities, to look as if they’re meant to be.”

Above: When the pool reflects the sky and surrounding mountains, it blends into the landscape. 

Above: According to Trainor, “great gardens are beautifully balanced compositions of hardscape and softscape…If the hardscape isn’t resolved well, it doesn’t do anything for the planting.”

Above: The hardscaping is minimal, and includes only stone and concrete garden walls, concrete stairs, and the pool. Says Trainor, “I aim to be frugal with design and materials, stripping away ornament and focusing on what’s essential and logical for each location–seeing how little I can do for the greatest impact.”

Above: At left, a concrete stair leads from the house to the pool. At right, Trainor did not use exclusively native plants, but combined a mix of natives and plants from similar Mediterranean environments. 

Above: The unadorned concrete stair leads from the house and intersects with the pool.

Find more inspiring spaces in our Landscape Architect Visits; our Gallery of Gardens; and on Remodelista, see A River Runs Through It: Brio Architects in India