Go Back

Aquatic design is here to help in the process of building a new swimming pool, wellness, fountains or lagoon project, as well as optimizing an already existing one.

The sheer number of decisions and their mid and long-term processes can be intimidating when undertaking such work. However, the right aquatic design choices will be able to combine human expertise and modern technologies for a successful aquatic project.

Keep reading to learn why aquatic design is a non-negotiable part of any project, the key current possibilities in aquatic design today and how to apply them to your project.

1. Why aquatic design is key

An aquatic installation has the potential to become the heart and soul of any sort of space. However, it takes the right combination of professionals, technologies and expertise working in sync to achieve an innovative, reliable and sustainable aquatic project that stands out and remains efficient in the long term.

This is true regardless of the type of aquatic solution and the sector for which it’s intended: big leisure pools for hotels , hydrotherapy pools for wellness spaces, competition pools for World Aquatics (FINA) competition events or water show fountains for public parks are all in need and can benefit from applying appropriate aquatic design.

Applied from the first sketches to the final implementation, aquatic design provides a holistic perspective for considering all significant aspects in a project.

These include the project aesthetics and architectural appeal of aquatic spaces; its sustainability and energy-efficiency; the most adequate manufacturing and construction processes; and the incorporation of technologies and automated smart features.

All in all, all decisions taken in aquatic design should be guided towards achieving the following advantages:

  • Optimal performance of installations, which remain reliable, efficient and durable
  • User satisfaction and safety
  • Added-value for commercial businesses seeking to boost their economic performance. The right aquatic design will take it as its role to accelerate Return on Investment (ROI) values
  • Low environmental impact
  • Optimized maintenance operations.

When aquatic design informs every stage of a water facility project, the work of engineers goes alongside the architects, public authorities, developers and other stakeholders involved to achieve these goals.

2. How aquatic design works today

The most successful aquatic design projects are implemented employing a 360º approach. Applied from the very beginning of a project’s conception, this approach implies clients and expert teams work hand in hand during all of its stages with a common goal: to achieve an efficient, sustainable installation that’s economically feasible and adds value to users and operators.

Following a step-by-step process where consulting, engineering and design take the lead also allows a guarantee of compliance with international standards, meeting construction deadlines and using the adequate technologies for each particular project.

2.1. Design phases of an aquatic project
2.1.1 Consultancy

This first stage includes the preliminary feasibility studies, general space distribution and user circuit definition. Starting right from the very first meetings between clients and designers, experts must ensure they get an accurate idea of the kind of project their client has in mind. Building up from here, they can offer advice on the type of aquatic installation that would best suit their project.

2.1.2 Concept Design

Based on RIBA 2 and ACE standards, the Concept Design stage is where unique, innovative ideas can be put forward. At this stage, it’s crucial to remain in line with the technical and financial framework set out in the project brief.

2.1.3 Developed Design

This is defined as the Spatial Coordination stage according to RIBA 3 standards or the Design Development stage in the case of ACE standards.

At this stage, aquatic solutions and technologies are integrated to final designs. This involves both defining the requirements for the technical rooms and providing the information needed to draw up an estimate for the project.

This is the right moment to examine the feasibility of modern construction techniques such as modular pools or to suggest the latest pool equipment options for enhanced efficiency, among other things.

2.1.4 Detailed Design

The Technical Design stage, according to RIBA 4 standards, is finally reached. ACE standards appoint this stage as the Detailed Design.

At this point, the design team is in charge of developing every aspect of the aquatic solution. This includes all required units, systems and accessories, as well as managing any work in other environments.

As a result, the solution is modeled and the entire aquatic project is documented, including the location of all equipment and elements, the project’s construction details, floor and section plans, as well as detailed lists of materials and the PIM (Project Information Model).

2.2. Top current aquatic design technologies

Today, some of the most advanced design tools and technologies are available for aquatic design experts, pushing their ideas and efficiencies forward throughout the design process. This collaboration between human expertise and technology results in successful aquatic installation.

Key current aquatic design technologies today include:

2.2.1 BIM

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a work methodology for optimizing construction projects. The model allows experts to create, manage and store all information related to the project and then generate a 3D model of the finished installation.

As such, the BIM model brings together information such as geometry, relationship with space, geographical location, costs, sustainability, life cycle, infrastructure maintenance and all amounts and components, allowing for the 360º approach we mentioned above.

The advantages of BIM methodology are all related to this model’s capacity to anticipate construction processes and consequences by implementing them in the 3D model. Compared to traditional design approaches, the benefits of a project guided by BIM models include:

  • Optimizing investment decisions. Through a BIM model, it’s possible to make investment decisions by comparing the functionality, scope and cost of the solutions.
  • Generating comparative analysis for environmental options. The model allows for the comparative analysis of energy and environmental requirements in order to choose the most adequate solutions.
  • Facilitating collaborative development. Design and construction teams are able to work in sync, for the benefit of the project. Additionally, all parties involved are aware of the project’s development and installation data, from the design phase to its demolition, as well as its construction, use and maintenance.
  • Improving quality assurance and data sharing. This results in streamlining the design process.

When it comes to picking the right partner, operators must ensure they work with companies that present the ISO 19650 certification for the management and use of BIM in project design and construction. It’s part of a set of international standards that define the framework, principles and requirements of BIM in projects, which provides proof that the company can expertly implement the BIM methodology.

2.2.2 CFD

CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) is a methodology based on numerical computational models that is able to simulate fluid behavior. 

Through this methodology, it’s possible to predict the evolution of the physical-chemical characteristics of water over time, such as speed, temperature, turbulence and other variables, accessing valuable information for aquatic design decisions.

The simulation of water dynamics in swimming pool projects guarantees the construction of sustainable, efficient aquatic facilities in the following areas:

  • Ensures optimal distribution of disinfectants
  • Saves on water maintenance costs
  • Enhances user experience
  • Controls water currents and prevents water stagnation
  • Makes water management more sustainable3
2.2.3 Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality technologies applied to aquatic design are implemented once the final design is completed and before the construction phase begins.

At this crucial stage, virtual reality systems generate an immersive experience of the future aquatic installation. Using rendered images and 3D designs, they are able to bring the project to life beyond what earlier, more conventional drafts were able to do.

As a result, both project teams and client access an exact vision of how the final installation will look, making way for the following advantages:

  • Verify design integration
  • Evaluate space options and configurations
  • Prevent potential mistakes during the construction phase
  • Ensure a transparent budget with no subsequent surprises
  • Check accessibility of the facility ahead of implementation
3. Project management: the last step for a successful aquatic design

As we’ve seen, aquatic design takes care of all details leading to a successful water installation. However, it must be followed up by adequate project management that ensures a perfect execution of plans.

In a successful project, aquatic design experts have already taken care of construction processes and their timings, as well as the professionals involved. In fact, the right aquatic design will also take into account future maintenance operations.

Moving on from design to implementation, the correlation between aquatic design decisions and the project final execution will be vital. That’s why it’s advisable for project management to be integrated from the very beginning.

From the first stages in design, an efficient project management will consider future execution actions, coordination and timings that will result in a perfect installation.

This key role belongs to the Project Manager, a person responsible for planning, managing and leading a team’s work and resources in order to successfully meet the project’s objectives.

In other words, the Project Manager successfully turns an aquatic design project into reality by managing the installation and supervising the work end-to-end.

The PM’s main tasks include scheduling, coordinating, monitoring and providing support from start to finish to all the different parties involved in the project, all while complying with the highest quality standards and within the established timeframes. Among his key roles it’s also becoming the contact point for the client.

In order to do so, the PM must ensure it’s proficiency in the following aspects:

  • Familiarity with contractual needs and requirements
  • Creation of detailed plans for project completion
  • Project coordination, which involves directing, managing and coordinating the project from the design phase to the execution phase, all while ensuring transparency in terms of time, cost and quality
  • Management of all documentation related to the project
  • Schedule and timing decisions
  • Control of project implementation, monitoring actions and correcting potential deviations from established plans
  • Health and safety protocols and the project’s adherence to them
  • Quality control
  • Creation and support of policies of continuous improvement
4. Professional aquatic design: a key piece in the aquatic installations jigsaw

Aquatic installations involve a number of experts able to deliver efficient, sustainable projects that are in line with client’s aspirations and provide an outstanding user experience.

As such, aquatic design can be understood as the foundation for the whole project, in charge of providing a solid ground from which a successful aquatic installation can be built upon.

Thanks to the combination of professional teams specialized in aquatic design and the right state-of-the-art technologies, aquatic installations today are able to reach their full potential and achieve the goals they were designed for.