Design Details: Marine Influence

Craftsmanship, collaboration, and a rooftop pool reminiscent of a glass-bottom boat.

Photos: Joshua Curry Photography

April 07, 2017

Project: Spencer Pool, Figure Eight Island, Wilmington, N.C. 

Builder: Tongue & Groove Design-Build, Wilmington, N.C.

Structural Engineer: Bradford Products 

Mark Batson, owner of Tongue & Groove Design-Build, deploys accomplished craft throughout a 4,364-square-foot beach house built on the site of a shipwreck. From the home’s exterior mahogany cladding to its sculptural light fixtures and custom bath cabinetry, meticulous attention is evident throughout—including up on the roof. 

Inspired by time spent in the Cayman Islands, Batson’s clients wanted a home that felt “shippy.”  The rooftop swimming pool is fronted by a 7 ½-foot-wide acrylic wall reminiscent of a glass-bottom boat. At the pool’s opposite end, Batson crafted a seating area from the stern of a recovered yacht. (The bow is used inside the cabana as a bar.) The use of the scrapped boat is particularly poignant, as it was left behind by Batson’s late brother, Caleb, a fisherman who died in 2014. Builder and client consider that design element a tribute to his memory.

The combination of storms and high places spells danger, and Figure Eight Island is hurricane-prone. To withstand lateral forces exerted by 150 mph winds—and a pool filled with more than 20 tons of water—Batson designed steel framing and a concrete deck. Structural engineers ensured that the 3¼-inch-thick acrylic wall is strong enough for the weight of the water.

Batson’s confidence as a craftsman is evident, but what he’s proudest of is building homes for people who take a serious interest in the creation of a special place and in the collaboration essential to getting there. “It’s all about our relationship with the client,” Batson says. “Nothing else really matters. The rest is just things.”  

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