The Skypark pool atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel, in Singapore, might be one of the most magnificent pools on earth: It’s an infinity-edged oasis 650 feet above ground with a mind-blowing view of the city’s skyline. It’s part of a massive rooftop entertainment platform perched atop three skyscrapers
While it may vie for the most dramatic, this high-altitude hot spot is now one of many built in major metropolises. These days pools are popping up on top of skyscrapers from New York to Sydney and everywhere in between, often with bars and restaurants that help transform the pool deck into a social scene all its own.
“In densely populated cities where space is at a such a premium, if you want to build something new and innovative, the only place to go is up,” says Thompson Toronto project architect Rob Cadeau, who turned the hotel’s rooftop into a gathering place by designing a bar adjacent to the pool area. Other designers have used increasingly dramatic effects—infinity edges, cantilevered pool tanks, see-through flooring—in order to distinguish and gain international attention for their offerings.
“Every time someone does something new, someone else has to up the ante,” says Cadeau. “In the future, we’re going to see even more acrobatic engineering on rooftops, features that will stretch our perception of the pool edge, the height and the sensations you experience once you’re swimming.”
The trend to create entertainment hubs above the hectic urban bustle started a decade ago in New York, where 35 hotels now feature a rooftop bar, many of which have pools. Boutique properties like the Soho House were the first to get in on the action, and other hotels followed suit, from Hotel Frasano’s Phillipe Starck–designed rooftop pool in Rio de Janeiro to the Joule in Dallas, where part of the pool hangs off the building.
Eventually the laws of physics may keep designers from pushing the envelope any further. In the meantime—the sky’s the limit.