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Public pools

Pool complexes tend to be ultraviolet radiation-laden areas: Typically these areas will have:

  • Large areas of reflective surfaces such as paving and concrete that reflect ultraviolet radiation (UVR).
  • Water surfaces that transmit and reflect UVR.
  • Large areas of open sky overhead providing direct UVR from the sun and a large part of scattered UVR from the sky.

Read more about ultraviolet radiation

Design considerations

When designing a shade plan for a public pool complex you should:

  • Choose the most appropriate shading device according to shade requirements and existing site conditions. Aim to:
    • Use built shade for areas in close proximity to pools.
    • Maintain a vegetation free clearance zone around pools (to prevent leaves and debris from falling into water). Use natural shade in areas away from the pool.
    • Use a variety of shade types (natural, built and combination) throughout a complex to avoid monotony and give people choice on the type of shade they would like to use.
  • Choose appropriate materials and design detailing to reduce corrosive defects of the chemically-laden and wet pool environment:
    • Where possible use stainless steel (it does not react as readily to the presence of water) for fittings and attachments.
    • Aluminium and aluminium alloys may corrode if they come into contact with chemicals used to treat pool water. They should be sealed with a protective coating (paint or anodising).
    • Avoid designs (intersections or jointings) that may encourage water or debris to collect.
    • Check any fabrics or membranes you wish to use for possible reactions in the pool environment. Ask product manufacturers for the results of tests.
  • Ensure the shade system does not compromise the safety of pool patrons by disrupting important safety features or encourage unsafe behaviour.
  • Establish a regular maintenance program to ensure continual, maximum UVR protection and safety of the pool environment.


Your design should create a comfortable, appealing environment. The way people feel and see shade will partly determine how and if it is used. People will avoid using shaded areas if they look and feel too cold.

Read more about Climate and comfort

Shade assessment

When conducting a shade audit / shade assessment – consider each of these areas within the complex:

  • Spectator areas
  • Aquatic areas
  • Concourse
  • Marshalling areas
  • Officials’ stands
  • Poolside instruction and coaching
  • Refreshment areas
  • Recreation areas.

From this audit, a mixture of temporary and permanent shade can be planned, dependent on the season of use, peak times and numbers of users, patterns of use. Existing shade and future plans of the particular activity area may also influence shade creation considerations.

Last updated: 21 April 2016

Technical guidelines

Find specific recommendations for shade planning in all common public facilities in the Technical guidelines for shade provision in public facilities.