Garden of villa La Palmierina, Firenze

In the modern garden the swimming pool provides relief from summer heat, but too often it appears an alien element, a hygienic tank separated from the rest of the garden.

Porcinai wanted to integrate the swimming pool into the garden and to end its isolation. Although the recirculating water in the pool must be kept separate from other water bodies in the garden, Porcinai always provides a visual connection. Plants are brought as close as possible to the edge of the pool. The rim of the pool matches adjacent paving; handrails are avoided or treated as sculptural elements.
In the small courtyard of a dependance of Villa Palmieri, the pool is a simple rectangle occupying about one-third of the space. Between the house and pool, a surface of white pebbles reflects the light. A path of gray slate runs to the pool steps, and on each side an arbor in the shape of a peacock, overgrown with ivy, provides shade. Sacred lotus (Nelumbo speciosa) and umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius) line the hedge. This side of the pool is surfaced in white pebbles; the other edges are in gray slate. A narrow path separates one end of the pool from a lily pond, beside which stands a dining table of polished slate. The table can be screened by a canvas sail suspended from a corner of the house. On the far side of the swimming pool, a bank of bamboo encloses the garden and hides a sunken garage and a service area beyond. This bank continues at the far end of the pool, above a suite of buried changing rooms. The use of dwarf bamboo (Arundinaria pumila) allows a view to the hills.

(Ph.:© Paola Porcinai)

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