It would be safe to say that the suburban subdivision pool house typology is rarely worth mentioning in any architectural terms. But, this is not that case with the austere Srygley Pool House just outside of Springdale, Arkansas. Designed by Fayetteville-based Marlon Blackwell Architects, the 945-square-foot figure peeks out from its own little world over a tall privacy fence to the more normative neighborhood. Working within a modest budget for a trusting repeat client, Blackwell delivered a project that transforms a typical backyard into a dynamic entertainment space.
Clad in contextually appropriate, subdued cedar siding, the project subverts normal suburban materiality to produce a bold simple figure. The project privileges the pool with a strong compositional facade with the use of large fields of glass. “With fenestration we like to work the edges. From an edge or to an edge. Once we have established that as a primary move with windows, we’ll have secondary moves where windows float, carefully composed.” This is most noticeable on the upper level, where a long ribbon window extends across the facade, flush with the siding material. “We are really trying to make the windows part of the surface as opposed to being a second element.” And yet it’s more than just an aesthetic move, large west facing ribbon window also serves to bathe the interior with soft morning light and bright evening sunsets.
The interior of the pool house is designed to act as an entertainment space as well as a fully functional crash pad for late-night partygoers. At the lower level, a glass facade opens onto the pool terrace, blending the indoor and outdoor space into one larger area for hosting large groups. “I tend to work in section and profile,” Blackwell said. “And try to inverse that relationship between the building and the ground, and the building and sky. So rather than being heavy at the bottom, it is light.” In doing so, the bright open kitchen and dining areas look out onto the pool as well up to an upper, more enclosed, loft space. In the loft, nestled behind the front facade’s ribbon window, a series of built-in bunk alcoves and storage overlook the pool, inviting waking guests to take a morning swim.
Along with the figural nature of the building, the pool area includes ceramic alligators, carved stone birds, and an imposing 3,000-pound concrete triceratops, making the Srygley Pool House a small world within the more mundane “Ruburbia”—a term used by Blackwell to describe the reclaimed former rural farm areas converted into outskirt suburbs. As such, Blackwell aligns his work with rural sensibilities of form and material. “It is at once strange and at once somewhat familiar to them,” he said, describing the locals’ reactions to his work in the context of central Arkansas. “They see it as something that’s potentially wonderfully strange, but born of its own space.”