Practicality ruled when a farmhouse in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts was built in the 1800s: it was sited by the road, with working fields within eyesight, in the least private spot on a sprawling property. Well over a century later, the house is now a weekend home for a pair of nature lovers escaping the city—and its placement makes far less sense. Said architect Faith Rose: “Dramatic views of the nature beyond can be found out in the middle of the fields, and the farmhouse misses the view.”
Short of moving the farmhouse, Rose and Devin O’Neill of O’Neill Rose Architects in Brooklyn found a way to solve the problem—by orienting a pool and pavilion in an adjoining field for maximum enjoyment of the site: “This project allows the clients to take advantage both of the amazing views and the privacy of their land in a way they hadn’t before.”
Photography by Michael Moran courtesy of O’Neill Rose Architects.
Above: The farmhouse is visible through the pavilion breezeway, beyond the clients’ vegetable garden. The idea was to connect the different areas of the clients’ land, including “the historic farmhouse, vegetable garden, and actively farmed field—so that the site reads a little more coherently as a whole,” said Rose.
The pavilion is sided with white-painted cedar clapboard, cut to the the same dimensions as the siding on the farmhouse. The decking is water-resistant ipe wood.
Above: For the enclosed outdoor room, the architects had custom frames constructed using standard screening material. It’s used primarily as an outdoor office: “Our client is a law professor and loves to spend time reviewing and grading his student work over the weekend,” said Rose, noting that the room is “low-tech construction with some hidden high-tech infrastructure.”
Above: The rest of the clients’ property is leased to a local farmer who grows hay. The fieldstone retaining wall surrounding the pool matches the pitch of the hayfield.
“We knew that the grading of the site would be key to creating a serene environment,” said Rose. “We leveled a small section for the pool and pavilion, and built the wall to hold back the slope.”
Above: A door on a back wall of the pavilion leads to a stash of the grandchildren’s pool toys.
The pool is made of gunite in a dark gray finish, and slopes from 3 to 5 feet deep. At the near end, just off the deck, an underwater bench allows bathers to sit and read or look at the view.
Above: The pavilion’s roof is asphalt shingles. “We wanted to use materials that could be picked up at the local lumber yard so there would be no delays in construction waiting for long lead-time materials,” said Faith Rose. “This strategy was cost-effective as well.”
Above: Past the far end of the pool, the architects designed a short, steep slope so the 42-inch field fence (required by code) would not block swimmers’ views. From the pool, said Rose, “all you see is water, sky, mountain, and trees.”
Above: Behind the pool is an outdoor shower and changing room with a rain-style showerhead and a bench.
Above: The pathway at the top of the site plan leads from the vegetable garden and farmhouse.
Finally, get more ideas on how to integrate a swimming pool into your landscape or exterior home project with our Hardscaping 101: Swimming Pools guide.