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    We are an Award-Winning Pool Design Company

    For decades, Albatross Pools has been a force to be reckoned with at the SPASA awards. These awards are an annual tradition for Victoria’s Swimming Pool and Spa Association, and they recognise outstanding and innovative swimming pool design and construction. We’ve won many SPASA awards in recent years for SPASA Victoria, but this year, we’ve be very fortunate to receive two SPASA Australia National Awards: an award for Best Pre-engineered Vinyl Lined Pool and another for Best Display Centre across Australia.

    Our ‘Best Pre-Engineered Vinyl Lined Pool’ Award

    We were happy to win an award for the pool we designed for a Lake Wendouree family this past year. They own a nice house on a small piece of property, and we think that our design is a really great-looking and practical answer to conflicting priorities. In this case, the family wanted a multi-purpose pool, but their site plan didn’t have a lot of leeway. It’s a bind that a lot of Victorian households find themselves in, and they often assume that there’s no solution to it and give up on their dream of having an in-ground pool. We’re happy that we’re getting some publicity for this design, because it’s a concept that a lot of people might want to put to work on their own property (if you are building a house and a swimming pool at the same time).

    Lake Wendouree Lap Pool
    Lake Wendouree Lap Pool

    Here’s the problem we solved: our clients wanted a pool that could be used

    1. for swimming laps; and
    2. for entertaining.

    Yet, they had very little space to work with. Their attractive, contemporary-style house is situated on a small lot, without enough room for a lap pool in the back. Here’s the solution: we designed and built a pool that’s snug up against their home’s foundation and the side wall of their lot. Instead of a foot path on the side of their house, they now have a swimming path; a 16 metre lap pool that’s great for keeping fit.

    However, this distinctive-looking pool isn’t just for swimming laps. It widens into a more social and relaxed shape as it steps up to the el fresco area in the back garden. So, it’s laps in the morning and good times with family and friends in the evening. It’s exactly what our clients wanted, and the limited space that we had available is actually what makes the design so beautiful. It creates a dramatic effect when viewed from the interior of the house, from the el fresco area or from most rooms in the house.

    Our ‘Best Display Centre’ Award

    We have had plenty of practice building pools next to building foundations. In fact, we used a similar design and the same construction techniques at our display centre at Dandenong. Our L-shaped display pool wraps around one of our buildings. It has an Aqualux interior with a classic mosaic tile pattern and a handsome coordinated bluestone tile surround. Its dramatic design is clearly visible from the street, and it often draws potential customers into our sales area. Everyone is interested in how a below-ground pool can be constructed near the side of a building. It’s a space saving and truly beautiful design option.

    Lake Wendouree Award winning pool design
    Lake Wendouree Award winning pool design

    As lot sizes shrink and the cost of a new house in the Melbourne area goes up, we have more and more people asking us about pool designs that can make efficient use of scarce outdoor space. We’re happy to tell you that we are qualified and experienced at building high quality, long lasting steel framed, Aqualux pools, and yes — in many cases, they can be built near the side of a house (depending on the footings depth of the house).

    If this is a pool building technique that interests you, either because space is scarce or you like the dramatic look of a pool — almost like a moat! — right next to your house, then don’t hesitate to give us a call. Even better, stop by our display centre in Dandenong and take a look at our award-winning display pool.


    SPASA and VBC: What They Are and How We Participate

    If you’re familiar with Albatross Pools or have had an opportunity to explore our website, then you know we’ve been building steel-framed, Aqualux-lined pools in greater Melbourne since the late 1960s. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a company that has been building pools for so long is a leader in the local pool and spa community and actively participates in Melbourne’s residential construction industry, too.

    SPASA, the Swimming Pool and Spa Alliance, is our industry association. They are the pool industry’s self-regulatory body; for example, they offer training and have a Code of Ethics that Albatross and other reputable pool and spa companies adhere to. The VBC, on the other hand, is our regulator; it’s their job to enforce the building regulations by registering builders, issuing permits and inspecting new construction.


    Albatross Pools is one of the Swimming Pool and Spa Alliance’s leading members in greater Melbourne. SPASA is the organisation that brings together companies that are involved in designing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining pools, spas and related products. When the government needs to know what people in the industry think, they talk to SPASA. By consulting on regulations that will affect the industry, SPASA helps to insure that the government has access to the technical and business knowledge needed to effectively regulate pool construction and safety.

    SPASA Logo
    SPASA Award

    SPASA also hosts conventions and expos and gives out awards for outstanding pool design; we’ve won quite a few of them in recent years! This year’s Victorian SPASA Spa & Pool Show will be at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on August nine and ten of this year. The next big national Expo will be happening in Sydney at Rosehill Gardens Event Centre in February of 2015. Both shows are big networking events for people in the industry, and they also offer everyone in the general public an opportunity to see the newest pool and spa designs and technologies. If you’re planning to build or renovate a pool, then it’s a great idea to attend one of these events.

    These expos and conventions are also one way we maintain and build our strong network of pool industry partners, such as Spa Electrics, our primary pool lighting supplier. Because we’re well connected in the industry, we can offer pool design and construction packages with the confidence of knowing that we can provide the best of everything to our clients at a fair cost.

    The VBC

    The VBC is the Victoria Building Commission. It isn’t an industry association like SPASA; it’s a government regulator. We are a Registered Building Practitioner, which means that we’ve completed all of the relevant training and testing and are authorised to submit projects for building permits within the state of Victoria.

    VBA Logo
    VBA Award

    When you think about building permits, you probably think about, well, buildings. However, constructing a safe and stable pool requires a sound knowledge of structural design and site design, too. That’s why the local building department has to approve each in-ground pool design before construction begins. Our registration as a Building Practitioner (specialising in swimming pools) means that we understand the legal requirements for swimming pool design and construction. It also means that we’re required to be — and are — fully covered by specialised insurance for domestic builders.

    Our VBC registration and SPASA membership connect us to the business and regulatory structures that keep our industry on track and moving forward. With the exception of a new house, a new, custom-designed pool is the most complex and demanding building project that most ordinary families are likely to be involved in. With Albatross pools, you can rest assured that we’ll be building on a strong foundation.


    Inspiration: Lava pool in Maderia, Portugal

    Maderia is an island off the coast of Portugal; yes, it’s where Maderia wine is made. It and the other islands in the area formed as a result of volcanic activity that ceased around 6000 years ago. The island of Maderia is popular with tourists. It features beautiful, jagged peaks of volcanic rock and thick forests; it’s a Mecca for hikers. With its 1000+ miles of aqueducts, all with adjacent footpaths, its forests and mountains are accessible to anyone who feels fit enough to tackle them.

    Lava Pool in Madeira Portugal
    Lava Pool in Madeira Portugal

    What’s the Lava Pool?

    The Lava Pool is a natural formation on the shore of the village of Porto Moniz. Unlike some of the other natural pools we’ve looked at for design inspiration, such as Wufengchi Waterfall and Aruba’s Natural Pool, the Lava Pool is not undeveloped. The locals have worked into the natural volcanic rock to make it safer, friendlier and more convenient for swimmers and sunbathers, and it’s popular with locals and tourists alike. Steps, paths and sunbathing platforms have been carved out of the rock and the edges of the drop-offs have been painted white for better visibility.

    This isn’t a hidden, 100% natural area. However, it’s still undeniably beautiful, and it’s easy to take direct inspiration from it. While the developers of the Lava Pool started with a natural formation and tamed it, you’ll be starting with a man-made pool and making it a little wilder.

    Porto Moniz
    Porto Moniz

    Design Ideas From Porto Moniz’s Lava Pool

    1. Levels and Steps

    The Lava Pool, viewed close up, looks almost like an Escher poster. There are flat spaces for sunbathing at many levels and they are linked by stairs, with a seawall at the back connecting everything. The sections of the pool that are shallow enough to walk in have been paved and equipped with underwater steps and platforms; volcanic rock is really hard on the feet! So, the general impression is one of steps and platforms both around the pool and inside the pool. This work has made the Lava Pool much more accessible, but it’s also beautiful in and of itself. To get a similar look and feel, consider using more than one level, both in the pool and along the edges.

    2. Curves and Slopes

    If you want to capture the natural look of the Lava Pool, then think about using broad curves and sloped platforms both inside and outside your pool. Inside the pool, adding levels will create depth and complexity. You can control the colour through your choice of pool liner, but varying the depth of the pool will create different tones, since deeper water always appears to be bluer and darker. On a practical note, putting platforms into the pool can create places for small children to play and for older kids and adults to sit and cool off.

    3. Natural Rock

    Of course, it’s the volcanic rock that really gives the Lava Pool its character - that and the white paint that’s used on the edges and sometimes all over the steps and platforms. There are at least two design ideas that you can take from that: using high contrast materials and yes, literally adding natural rock to your design. A real or natural-looking rock formation in the crook of a curve at the pool’s edge would be especially effective, visually, as would a volcanic rock wall, perhaps with a waterfall. A bright white pool deck would create contrast with darker landscaping elements like trees and volcanic rock. Volcanic rock or other dark-coloured stone could be used in pebble or tile form as a ground covering as well as in boulder form as an accent.

    Rockpool and Rocks Porto Moniz Madeira
    Rockpool and Rocks Porto Moniz Madeira

    Because it’s partly a product of human ingenuity itself, Porto Moniz’s Lava Pool really does offer a wealth of both direct and indirect inspiration for pool design. We’ve thought of a few ideas, but there are plenty more to draw from it. What ideas have we missed, and how would you apply the ones above to your specific pool and landscape design?


    Safety Ledges / Safety Rails? Yes and No.

    Have you heard about ‘safety ledges’ or ‘safety rails’? They’re being marketed by some of our friends in the fibreglass pool business as a feature. If you’ve been over at their websites reading up on your options, then you might have run across articles and even videos extolling the virtues of safety ledges.

    They say, ‘It’s great for small children’, ‘It provides a safe place to stand at the side of the pool as they learn to swim’. Well, perhaps, but let’s get the whole story out there. Safety ledges aren’t a feature; they’re a structural necessity for fibreglass pools, and they definitely have their disadvantages.

    Small Fibreglass Pool
    Small Fibreglass Pool

    Clever Marketing Alert!

    Have you ever heard the expression, ‘It’s not a bug, it’s a feature’? That well known saying must have been in the mind of whoever came up with the ‘safety ledge’ idea. Because fibreglass pools are relatively weak and brittle, they require ridges along the edges in order to hold their shape and prevent damage in the course of normal use. Those ridges are simply an unavoidable consequence of building a large pool out of fibreglass. In fact, even small, fibreglass kiddy pools are often built with reinforcing ridges. Fibreglass pools are cheap for a reason. They are not as stable and durable as steel and concrete pools.

    Are Safety Rails Useful?

    So, does the ‘safety ledge’ marketing have any merit? Are these structural ledges, rebranded as safety ledges, actually good for safety? Well, it’s true that small children can use them to rest, standing, at the edge of the deep areas of the pool. Adults and older kids may also be able to use them as an aid to pulling themselves up onto the side of the pool. However, keep in mind that in most cases, the position of a fibreglass pool’s safety rail is fairly near the surface of the water.

    Fibreglass Pool With Safety Ledge
    Fibreglass Pool With Safety Ledge

    Disadvantages of Safety Ledges

    There are several reasons why you might want to opt out of the safety ledge idea. Children don’t stay small forever, and they are not usually convenient for taller people to stand on. They get in the way of lap swimming, making flips a little hazardous - you can slip or stub your toe on them. In fact, they tend to become slippery; algae often collects on them. That makes the lap swimming flip and the pull-up to the poolside a bit hazardous. The little people walking along the ledge can slip on the algae, too.

    Still Want a Safety Rail?

    Safety rails have their uses, and if you like the idea of having one, but would prefer the quality and durability of a steel-framed pool, then we can certainly build one in for you. With a steel pool, you are free to focus on safety and convenience when designing the safety rail. For example, we’d recommend that you place it around a metre below the surface rather than closer to the top of the water, as in fibreglass pools, and make it approximately 100mm wide. That way, it’s useful for taller people to stand on, it’s not in the way of lap swimming, and it’s much less likely to collect algae.

    So, in conclusion, the ideal safety ledge is not the one that’s a structural necessity in fibreglass pools; it’s lower and wider. The safety rail marketing that you might have seen isn’t exactly a horrible lie, but it is a bit disingenuous in some cases. It’s a classic attempt to turn a disadvantage into a perceived advantage. However, we can’t really blame our colleagues in the fibreglass pool business. They do provide a low-priced product that’s generally fit for purpose, and they want to sell you one.

    If you’d like to step up to a higher quality product, then get in touch with us. Don’t make up your mind until you’ve seen the cost estimates; you may be pleasantly surprised.


    We’re Much More Than Just Our Website

    The internet can be a great equaliser, and when you’re judging products and especially services online, there’s a lot of room for false razzle-dazzle. A slick website and a good pitch can sell you on a company at a superficial level, but how can you tell when there’s real substance behind the online image?

    We’re an Established Melbourne Company

    At Albatross Pools, we’re marketing our business online, but we want you to know that what you see on our website is just the tip of the iceberg. We have been building steel-framed pools in Melbourne and the surrounding area since 1969. That’s well over 40 years of well constructed pools and satisfied customers. Our many years of experience and our good reputation have kept our business going — and growing — for decades, and that’s why we can do such an outstanding job at such a fair price. In fact, we’re increasingly being asked to build pools outside of our local area, and if you have a job outside of Melbourne that you’d like us to provide an estimate on, please feel free to contact us.

    We’re Active in SPASA, Our Industry Association

    A company like Albatross doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We’re active in our industry association: SPASA, the Swimming Pool and Spa Alliance. In fact, we’re a long term and well respected member, and SPASA’s Outdoor Living Expo is a highlight of our year, every year. In fact, if you’re thinking about buying a pool and you’re not in a hurry to get it into the ground by summer, we’d encourage you to attend the expo in February. If you do come to the expo, there’s a good chance that you’ll see Albatross winning an award.

    What does this tell you about Albartross Pools? If you’re part of an industry association yourself, then you may already know the answer. It means that we stay up to date with new regulations, products and technology. It means we follow a Code of Ethics. Most importantly, perhaps, it means that we have a good reputation that we care deeply about maintaining. We always stand by our work and stand by our customers, both because it’s the right thing to do and because we are highly visible as one of Melbourne’s top pool companies. We are not happy unless we’re constantly exceeding our customers’ expectations.

    Come See Our Products In Person

    You don’t need to be guided by online pool photos and industry accolades, though. Come see the pools at our two real-life display centres in metropolitan Melbourne. If you’re to the south of the city, then visit our Dandenong showroom at 157 Foster Street. If you’re further up to the north, then our Warrandyte location at 226 Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road will be more convenient. Both of our locations are open during the week and on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

    Dandenong Display Pool
    Dandenong Display Pool

    You can also see examples of our projects in Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine. Just pick one up, and you’ll find that one of our projects is featured in every issue. We’re happy to provide references, too. Our customers are proud of their beautiful, low maintenance Albatross pools. Maybe you’ll be one of them soon. Explore our past projects online, at our display centres and in Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine, and work with a pool company that has a long history of happy customers.

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    157 Foster Street
    Dandenong VIC 3175, Australia

    Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 9am to 5pm
    Sunday: 10am to 4pm

    CLOSED Tuesday/Wednesday
    Closed Public Holidays

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    226 Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road
    Warrandyte VIC 3133, Australia

    Monday – Saturday: 9am to 5pm
    Sunday: 10am to 4pm

    Closed Public Holidays

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