Tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira, Portugal
© Fernando Guerra/age fotostoc
A splash by the sea. A splash by the sea
You wouldn’t know there’s a highway behind these beaming blue pools, and that is just what architect Álvaro Siza Vieira intended. At the young age of 26, Álvaro Siza designed these Piscinas das Marés (Pools on the Beach). His creation has become a Portuguese national landmark and is praised for the way the pools blend into the landscape from some perspectives, and show a harmonious blend of nature and artificiality from others. The design respectfully floats the pools between the soft sands of the beach and the rocky outcrops that have been here long before 1966, when the project was completed. The shapes of the pools simultaneously follow and oppose the natural lines of the terrain that surround them, a masterful balance that foregrounds the beauty of each, as well as the entirety of the scene Álvaro Siza has helped to set.Of course, pools are for swimming, and locals and visitors flock to Leça da Palmeira for summer fun. The larger saltwater pool is designated for adults and sits close to the ocean. The other pool is located more inland and has an entrance that is fairly low to the ground—a lighthearted signal that this is where young kids can swim. Álvaro Siza built changing rooms and a café here too, with low-walled pathways that are carefully positioned to not only leave the views of the coastline undisturbed, but they follow the right angles to enhance what you see, whether you are headed to grab a bite or take a swim.