We were blown away by the splendor of green covering the roofs of the Municipal Pools of Povoação in Portugal. Designed by Barbosa and Guimaraes Arquitectos, the public indoor pools are housed in a series of basalt rock volumes cut into the side of the hill on a site that was formerly used by the city for outdoor sports. Inside, the building is naturally lit by skylights that pierce holes through the green roof and appear like plugs across the surface.
The pools are located in the village of Povoação on the Archipelago of the Azores, at the southern edge of the island of San Miguel and a slope behind the building protects it from the sea breezes. Previously the city had cut into the slope to create a flat spot to build recreational fields and the new pools slid into the space, seeking a fusion between the new building and the existing landscape. Construction began on the project in 2007 and was completed in 2008 to include a variety of swimming pools, training pools, locker rooms and lounge facilities.
Black basalt volumes, which correspond to various functional programs, run in line with the slope as if they were an extension of the landscape. A lush green roof covers the entire complex and is punctuated with angled skylights that pull natural daylight down to the pools below. From inside the skylights appear as bright polka dots on the ceiling. Gaps between the volumes also pour sunlight into the spaces and provide views to the outdoors.
Images ©João Ferrand