Whether historic or modern, a home’s architecture offers major inspiration for outdoor pool areas. This month, we spoke with the visionaries behind some of the city’s most beautiful backyards to present two stunning projects to encourage you to imagine the retreat of your dreams
A Vibrant Lagoon with a Lush Garden Setting
For Coral Gables mosaic artist Ray Corral, who has been crafting his awe-inspiring designs for over 25 years, incorporating a home’s history into his work is key. “Historic homes present a challenge, which I like,” he says. “The answers are in the architecture and I have to investigate the property to find the design intent.”
While many of the local projects that Corral has worked on have been rooted in more traditional design, he’s seeing frequent requests for work on modern homes as well. “I’m not going to find a unique tile to draw ideas from like I might with an older home, so I look to the shape of the structure and the shape of the windows,” says Corral. “I grab the shapes and start flipping and reversing them and make a design out of repetitive forms.” He employs a style known as Cosmati, named for the Roman family that constructed church floors from decorative mosaics beginning in the 1200s. “Mirroring shapes, and enhancing the design with a border allows me to tell a story and create synergy,” says Corral.
For the design of the angular pool shown here, Corral chose to incorporate sea marine-colored glass which created a dark, rich color in the vein of a lagoon. “The surrounding environment was very lush, so I wanted to conceive a natural looking water vessel with an earthy tone,” he explained. “Older pools were always dark in color, and the result goes well with the architecture of the home.” Mosaicist, Inc., 305-447-1977, mosaicist.com.
A Contemporary Pool Amidst a Tropical Landscape
Having grown up in Coral Gables, landscape architect Carlos Somoza credits the tree-lined streets for inspiring his love for foliage and design. In practice for over 25 years, he is recognized for his work on private residential gardens and sustainable outdoor spaces. The majority of his projects are modern in scope, and highlight native plants and materials.
The featured home is in a Coral Gables locale known for its mature oak canopy and hardwood hammocks. It lies hidden behind layers of emerald green foliage dotted with mature palm trees, creating a special allure. The project was a collaboration between Somoza and architect Hamed Rodriguez, who kept true to the design vocabulary of the original home, a contemporary 1970s residence designed by Donald Singer.
The resort-style backyard, which is centered on an expansive pool deck, was envisioned in a thoughtful manner. “Hamed placed the cabana and terrace on a pedestal, offering distinct views of the adjacent landscape and essentially creating a lower garden and walkway at the base of the pool,” Somoza says. As for the pool, “we utilized bone-hued limestone and cerulean mosaics – and when the azure skies reflect off the water’s surface, it creates an allusion to Caribbean beaches.”
And as you walk the grounds, it’s impossible to resist relaxation. “A sequence of meandering pathways and covered walkways lead through a series of garden rooms,” he explains. “Each outdoor living area is defined by a distinct collection of palms, complemented by subtropical flora and a tranquil feel that will make almost anyone feel totally at peace.” Carlos Somoza Landscape Architecture, 786-440- 6567, designsomoza.com; Hamed Rodriguez Architects Inc., 305-529-9967, hamedrodriguez.com.