Tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira, Portugal
© Fernando Guerra/age fotostoc
A splash by the sea. The tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira beach
You wouldn’t know there’s a road behind these beaming blue pools - and that is just what Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira intended. Álvaro Siza designed these Piscinas das Marés (Pools on the Beach) at the tender age of 26. His creation is a national landmark and is praised for the way the pools merge into the landscape from some perspectives and blend nature and architecture from others. His design respectfully floats the pools between the soft sands of the beach and the rocky outcrops that were here long before 1966, when the project was completed. The pools’ shapes both follow and oppose the natural lines of the terrain around them, a masterful balance which emphasises the beauty of each.Of course, pools are for swimming, and locals and visitors flock to Leça da Palmeira, outside Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, for summer fun. The larger salt-water pool is for adults and sits close to the ocean. The other pool has an entrance that is fairly low to the ground—a lighthearted nod to the fact that it is meant for children. Álvaro Siza built changing rooms and a café here too, with low-walled pathways that are carefully positioned to leave the views of the coastline undisturbed, whether you are grabbing a bite or having a swim.