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Alvaro Siza blends a swimming pool complex into the natural rocky coastline


@Alvaro Siza

The Leça Swimming Pool is an internationally recognised complex completed in 1966. It was designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza and is considered as one of his greatest early works.

With a great respect for the natural rocky coastline of Matosinhos, a small town to the north of Porto, Alvaro Siza created one of his first solo projects. Situated on the beaches of Leça de Palmeira, The Leça Swimming Pool stands as a multi-functional complex, that satisfy the needs of vacationers. It consists of changing rooms, a café and two swimming pools, one for adults and one for children. When contemplating on the concept and planning the modern interventions, Alvaro aimed to preserve as much of a large portion of the existing rock formations as possible.

With a great theoretical and practical skills, he was able to create a perfect blend of the complex with the natural landscape. The Leça Swimming Pool welcomes its visitors with a smooth concrete ramp, which is parallel to the road. Following the corridors to the shower stalls and changing rooms, the robust concrete walls were built to provide a sufficient privacy. Going further, the adult swimming pool amaze with its low concrete walls and natural rock formations, which are spread along its edges. From almost every angle, the ocean’s edge blur with the water level of the pool, what enhance the swimmer’s experience and blurs their understanding of the nature and the idea of a man-made world.

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