This site-sensitive public pool in the Portuguese town of Porto has stood the test of time by delicately placing itself within the natural landscape. Built in 1966, the seaside pool is one of architect Alvaro Siza’s first projects. His bold approach was to use the natural rock formation as the basis of the two pools, adding concrete walls within the natural elements to achieve his desired results, rather than simply plopping artificial tubs onto the shoreline. The result is a pleasing fusion of the man-made and nature.
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Siza did not have a large budget, or even topological survey, so he carefully studied the site to establish the best way to use the existing rock formations with minimal blasting and reduced construction materials. The brilliant solution was to place strategic walls between the rock outcropping and to use the site’s natural elements to complete the pools.
The site is separated from the town by a small cliff enhancing its connection with the sea. Visitors gain access through a path from the coastal highway, and are met by a maze of concrete walls, copper roofed showers and changing rooms before the pools are even revealed.
The kid’s pool is tucked in a large formation, with a curved concrete wall at one end and a low-set bridge at the other to encourage only children to pass below. The main pool is settled between rock outcroppings, hovering just above the ocean and creating a visual link with the blue waters beyond. The design is a classic example of how restrained resources catalyze a richer and more satisfying design.
Lead photo © Spain Portugal Blog