In at the deep end

Features Posted 22/08/19
Designer prepares to set a world record with his daring plans for a see-through infinity pool on top of a 220-metre London building.

Alex Kemsley is making waves as a designer of extraordinary swimming pools, with his latest project destined to break world records for daring to be different.

His Compass Pools business, which he set up 12 years ago straight from university, is looking for backers to create Infinity London, the only building in the world to incorporate a 600,000-litre infinity pool 55 storeys above street level. Work could start in a few months, if all partners and contractors are confirmed and Alex can’t wait to get going on his most creative project yet.

Since Alex, 34, set up the businesses Waterstream and Compass Pools in Sussex he has risen through the ranks of the industry to become the youngest president of the British Pool Federation. And it all started when he was nine and helped his dad build a pool at the family home. He still has fond memories of sitting in the mechanical digger as the feature took shape.

He said: “Any nine-year-old boy would enjoy operating an earth mover to dig out a hole big enough for a pool. But I couldn’t have guessed that day that it would become my life’s work.

“The business was already flying, with the first quarter of this year proving a record-breaking period for us. This coincided nicely with moving to the new site in Coolham, West Sussex, where we’ve built our own offices and warehouse. We’ve been able to streamline our operations so everything’s on the same site now. That allows us to control the entire process, from importing the shell to turning it into an installable pool and then all the digging, plumbing and electrics on site.”

Compass specialises in customised, one-piece, ceramic composite swimming pools for indoors or outdoors, at a price averaging six figures. Among Alex’s customers are film stars and footballers, who want something special for their homes.

The Infinity London pool will include a transparent floor, allowing visitors to view swimmers from below. There will also be a built-in wind monitor, a computer-controlled management system to ensure it remains at the correct temperature and a water heating system which will recycle energy from the building’s air conditioning unit. Swimmers will have a 360-degree view of the landscape, 220 metres above the street.

Alex explained: “Architects often come to us to design roof top infinity pools, but rarely do we get a say in the building design because the pool is usually an afterthought. On this project, we actually started with the pool design and essentially said, ‘how do we put a building underneath this?’

“We faced some quite major technical challenges to this building, the biggest one being how to actually get into the pool. Normally a simple ladder would suffice, but we didn’t want stairs on the outside of the building or in the pool, as it would spoil the view – and obviously you don’t want 600,000 litres of water draining through the building either.

“The solution is based on the door of a submarine, coupled with a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor when someone wants to get in or out – the absolute cutting edge of swimming pool and building design and a little bit James Bond to boot!”

Alex looks back on the past 12 years with some amazement and pride. He said: “To go from building a family pool with dad at my childhood home to designing the world’s most talked-about pool has been an incredible journey.”

Pictured: Alex (right) with business partner Simon Dickson (left) and key supplier Ben Blackburn

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