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Natural Wonder

Nantucket living swimming pool

The chlorine-free pool was created by the European company Biotop, their first pool in America.

“We had a lot of [Biotop] hardware brought over from Austria, which meant we needed to import material and re-engineer some of those pumps so they would meet U.S. standards and not metric standards,” Marzilli explains. The company was given a two-year window in which to complete the vast project by the clients, which not only included importing the equipment, but commissioning an array of aquatic plants, perennials, and more natural elements grown specifically for the natural pool.

Marzilli worked with New York-based James Corner Field Operations, an internationally-acclaimed landscape architecture firm that contracted Piet Oudolf, a famed planting designer who works globally, but calls the Netherlands home. “He knows more about perennials than most others in the industry,” says Marzilli. The softscape designer, says Marzilli, worked in concert with Field Operations and R.P. Marzilli & Co. to bring the project from vision to reality. Of course, getting there, quite literally in this case, was the hard part.

“We had to figure out how to get it all to the island,” Marzilli recalls. “We were given a completion date—and that didn’t move. As much as we’re all given a footprint, there are inevitable time and weather obstacles.” Marzilli notes that this particular project was one of the largest his company has taken on in its long history.

To put it in perspective, R.P. Marzilli project manager Dave Buckley says this natural pool’s total area is approximately 18,000 square feet, with the swimming area accounting for nearly half of that. “With this particular project, the issue was scale,” says Buckley. “It’s essentially the size you would see at a water park.” Piece by piece, plant by plant, components from around the world made their way to the Massachusetts island.

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