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20 of the Most Incredible Pool Designs Around the World

Pools can range from Olympic size lap pools to floating lounge pools in the depths of the rainforest. From public to private, from natural to high-tech, and from ancient to modern, we’ve got a list of the most spectacular pools in the world. 


The History of Pools

The “Great Bath” at the site of Mohenjo-Daro in modern-day Pakistan was most likely the first swimming pool, dug during the 3rd millennium BC. This pool is 12 by 7 metres, is lined with bricks, and was covered with a tar-based sealant. The first heated swimming pool was built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the 1st century BC. Gaius Maecenas was a rich Roman lord and considered one of the first patrons of arts. Ancient Greeks and Romans built artificial pools for athletic training in the palaestras, for nautical games and for military exercises. Roman emperors had private swimming pools in which fish were also kept, hence one of the Latin words for a pool was piscina. Ancient Sinhalese built pairs of pools called “Kuttam Pokuna” in the kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka in the 4th century BC. 

The modern Olympic Games started in 1896 and included swimming races, after which the popularity of swimming pools began to spread. Swimming pools became popular in Britain in the mid-19th century. As early as 1837, six indoor pools with diving boards existed in London, England. The Maidstone Swimming Club in Maidstone, Kent is believed to be the oldest surviving swimming club in Britain. Home swimming pools became popular in the United States after World War II and the publicity given to swimming sports by Hollywood films such as Esther Williams’ Million Dollar Mermaid made a home pool a desirable status symbol. More than 50 years later, the home or residential swimming pool is a common sight. 

The 20 most spectacular pools around the world: 

1. Hanging Gardens Ubud Hotel, Bali, Indonesia

There’s only one thing better than an infinity pool, and that’s two infinity pools together. The split-level, freshwater pool at the Ubud Hanging Gardens is an infinity pool to dream about. Swimming in the top pool, you’ll be on eye-level with the tree canopies of the surrounding jungle and be able to look down into the pool below. In the lower pool, you can walk down the stone steps into the crystalline depths, lay on the central island or just chill in one of the semi-submerged seats while listening to the water cascading from above. If you’ve got a bucket list of places you want your photograph taken, the Ubud Hanging Gardens pool just has to be on it. Once you’ve snapped a shot of yourself here, you can honestly say, you’ve had your picture taken in one of the most photographed pools in the world. You may need to wait your turn to get that amazing shot, but it’ll be worth it when you post it on Instagram and get all those envious reactions.


2. Neptunes Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeone, California

Originally constructed in the 1920s, the Neptune Pool was designed and enlarged twice by William Randolph Hearst and the architect Julia Morgan into the pool that is seen on tour today. The Neptune Pool, built above ground, is line with marble and serpentine tiles. The swimming pool is surrounded by Ancient Roman Revival and Greek Revival style pavilions and colonnades. Construction for the first of two Hearst Castle pools, the Neptune Pool, spanned 1924-1936. Three swimming pools were built on this site, each successively larger. Initial plans for the site called for a “Temple Garden” with an ornamental pool and temple structure. On March 31, 1924, W.R. Hearst wrote in a letter to Julia Morgan, “I am sending back the plan of the temple garden with the suggestion that we make the pool longer than it is, as long as a swimming pool. Mrs. Hearst and the children are extremely anxious to have a swimming pool!” On June 17, 1924, Morgan wrote that the first swimming pool was nearing completion: “Mr. Neptune and the two ladies can be placed but the finished basins will take some time yet.”

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The second version of the pool, a substantial enlargement, was created in 1926-1927. This version had a series of concrete steps at the southern side called the Cascade, down which water flowed. The sculptures of Neptune and two nereids, now installed in the pediment of the temple, then stood at the top of the Cascade. The present version of the pool was under construction from 1934-1936. It is unlikely that the enlargement was done to make it closer to Olympic size, as has sometimes been conjectured; Olympic pools are 165 feet long. It is more likely that the colonnades and Cassou statues, which were planned from the late 1920′s, required an enlarged treatment.  The final version of the pool as it stands at the Castle today is 104 feet long, 58 feet wide and 95 feet wide at the alcove. It is 3.5 feet deep at the west end, 10 feet at the drains, and holds 345,000 gallons of water. Other notable aspects of the Neptune Pool include the oil-burning heating system, the Vermont marble that lines the basin, gutters, and alcove, and four Italian relief sculptures on the sides of the colonnades.


3. Sky Park Pool, Singapore

Imagine soaking in the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool and gazing down on the glittering expanse of the city from 57 levels above. This gravity-defying platform is one of the largest in the world. The 1.2-hectare SkyPark stretches longer than the Eiffel Tower laid down and is large enough to park four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets. It houses a ticketed observation deck, lush gardens, top-notch restaurants and an exclusive, infinity-edge swimming pool with a legendary view.

The 150-metre pool, the world’s largest elevated body of water outdoors, has been designed with a vanishing edge. It is as if there is nothing between the swimmer and the skyscrapers in front of them. Those taking a dip feel like they are swimming among the clouds, perched so high in the sky with the most majestic scenery at their feet. However, only hotel guests can swim in the pool and enter the SkyPark free of charge. Visitors not staying at the hotel can buy tickets to the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, which offers you unobstructed 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline. You will be amazed when you see some of the enormous sculptures by famous artists, including a 40m-long Antony Gormley sculpture made from 16,100 steel rods. Everything you could wish for is available, from an elegant casino to ArtScience Museum. In addition, not one but several of the best chefs in the world are ready to serve you food from every tradition.


4. World’s largest swimming pool, San Alfonso Del Mar, Chile

And this is not any large swimming pool – an enormous 0.6-mile long pool covering an area of 19 acres, with a depth of 11 feet and holding 66 million gallons of water. San Alfonso del Mar is a resort located in Algarrobo, Chile, that holds the Guinness world record for the world’s largest pool. Crystal Lagoons have created the pool, and the waters have spectacular transparency with the intense turquoise color of tropical seas. The pool located just beyond the Chilean coast offers 78 degrees F waters throughout the year and is built at the cost of $3.5 million.The resort that is just 55 miles from Chile’s Santiago city has created a unique private world for all family members to spend days full of enjoyment without ever leaving the resort. Every room at the resort has been constructed to offer panoramic views of the 1.2-mile Algarrobo beach with large balconies that face the sea. If you are an outdoor aficionado, you will find a ton of activities at the San Alfonso. With sports schools imparting training classes on sailing, kayak, scuba diving, swimming, ocean navigation, tennis, and paragliding, you can also have some fun in the artificially-lit five-a-side soccer courts, volleyball courts and tennis courts, a real statutory soccer field, and a gym that offers stunning views of the lagoon.

This astounding private resort in Algarrobo, Chile, about 60 miles west of Santiago, basically has a view of two coasts at once: It directly overlooks the Pacific Ocean, sure, but it also boasts the world’s largest swimming pool, mind-bogglingly massive and hugging the coastline so closely that it’s practically a second beach.


5. Tidal pools at Leça da Palmeira, Portugal

Combining the serenity and safety of a pool with the salt water and sounds of crashing waves from the ocean, the tidal pools at Leça da Palmeira, in Portugal, offer the best of both worlds. Designed by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, the beach features two natural pools, which are filled with fresh seawater, and bordered by the rocky terrain to seamlessly blend into the natural environment. The Tidal pools of Leça da Palmeira (Portuguese: Piscinas de Maré de Leça da Palmeira) is swimming area on the beach of Leça da Palmeira, along the coast of the civil parish of Matosinhos e Leça da Palmeira, municipality of Matosinhos, in the Portuguese northern district of Porto. The structures consist of two natural pools filled with fresh sea water, designed and built between 1959 and 1973. Situated 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the Boa Nova tearoom and restaurant, it is considered one of Siza Vieira early projects.In 1961, the initial project, which foresaw the construction of a bar along the southern edge of the pool, was never realized. The current facility was completed in 1966. To architect Alves Costa, the structure was an attempt at integration at the site, that created an artificial world within the natural landscape, as if the artificial was normal to nature. But, by 2004, the facilities were in a complete state of ruin and abandoned by the local public.  It was in early 2004 (5 February) that a dispatch was issued to open the process to classify the site. The saltwater pool, has an irregular, rectangular plan, constructed over the outcrops and structured along the linear wall that delimits the beach. Access to the structure is conditioned by a route framed by raw cement, along which there are orthogonal and linear views that induce the view to look at focal points of the landscape.  Below the walls are various support structures. 


6. Therme Vals, in Switzerland

Designed by Peter Zumthor, this spa was built over the only thermal springs in Graubünden Canton, in Switzerland. The structure is partially submerged in the hillside—nearly undetectable from the back—and the walls are made from locally quarried quartzite stone. Built up in layers, the 60,000 multitoned strips appear as if a stone were cut in half. Zumthor created a magnificent, internationally acclaimed architectural masterpiece when he designed the thermal baths. Made from 60,000 slabs of Vals quartzite, the thermal baths were granted protected heritage status shortly after their completion. The unique atmosphere and the highly mineralised water that comes out of the St. Peter spring at a pleasant 30° Celsius makes the time you spend in the thermal baths a deeply relaxing experience.

Peter Zumthor designed the spa/baths which opened in 1996 to pre date the existing hotel complex. The idea was to create a form of cave or quarry like structure. “Mountain, stone, water – building in the stone, building with the stone, into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain – how can the implications and the sensuality of the association of these words be interpreted, architecturally?” Peter Zumthor 

This space was designed for visitors to luxuriate and rediscover the ancient benefits of bathing. The combinations of light and shade, open and enclosed spaces and linear elements make for a highly sensuous and restorative experience. The underlying informal layout of the internal space is a carefully modelled path of circulation which leads bathers to certain predetermined points but lets them explore other areas for themselves. The perspective is always controlled. It either ensures or denies a view. The fascination for the mystic qualities of a world of stone within the mountain, for darkness and light, for light reflections on the water or in the steam saturated air, pleasure in the unique acoustics of the bubbling water in a world of stone, a feeling of warm stones and naked skin, the ritual of bathing – these notions guided the architect. Their intention to work with these elements, to implement them consciously and to lend them to a special form was there from the outset. The stone rooms were designed not to compete with the body, but to flatter the human form (young or old) and give it space…room in which to be.


7. Villa Cavrois Swimming Pool,  Croix, France

This 88.5-foot swimming pool sits directly next to the boiler room at the Villa Cavrois in Croix: a large modernist mansion built in 1932 by French architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for Paul Cavrois, an industrialist from Roubaix active in the textile industry.Hygiene and health were important elements Cavrois wanted expressed through the property, and this swimming pool was one of the ways Mallet-Stevens brought these ideals to life. Visitors can see the property for themselves by visiting the villa Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. 

The large modern mansion was organized to offer the best possible lifestyle to the nine members of the family and to facilitate the daily work of the household staff. Mallet-Stevens’ work was not limited to the design of the building. He also designed the interior decoration and the gardens which surround the house. The choice of materials (concrete ceiling, metal, steel, glass, green Swedish marble in the main dining room, yellow Sienna marble in the fireplace alcove of the hall-salon, parquets of oak, iroko, zebrawood, Cuban mahogany) and the furniture of the rooms echoed the hierarchy of space: everything was conceived and adapted for use in place. Simplicity and functionality of the furniture prevail in all parts. The luxury of this house does not lie in carved detailing or gilding, it unfolds in the richness of the materials used, such as unadorned marble, metal and wood.Hygiene was very important in the conception of the Villa Cavrois, as it is shown by the clinical aspect of the kitchen (metal and white paint) and also by the presence of a swimming pool of 27 metres long and 4 metres depth at the diving boards.

Despite being classified in1990 as an historic monument, the owner no longer maintained the villa and it was abandoned to looters. The state bought the property, when it was in serious danger, in 2001, and entrusted its repair and renovation to the Centre for National Monuments in December 2008. The lighting, furnishings, decorations have all been restored using the original materials; the parquet floors, metal door frames and marble floor and wall coverings have been restored or returned. Substantial works have been carried out in the grounds to create the original layout including recreation of the reflective pool (filled in during the war) and the swimming pool, visible in the title photograph. Since 2012, the villa has been part of a worldwide conservation programme for “Iconic Houses” of the 20th century.


8. Bondi Iceberg Pool, Bondi Beach, Australia

Another early 20th-Century seawater pool still in operation is Bondi Icebergs Club in Sydney, originally called The Icebergs Swimming Club and established in 1929 by lifeguards who wanted to maintain their fitness by swimming during the winter months. At the south end of Bondi Beach, it comprises a 50m-long adults’ pool and a shallow, 25m-long childrens’ pool (both unheated) – it’s now open all year round. Other features include hot showers, a poolside restaurant, a sauna and a museum documenting its history.   The coolest thing about this pool is that its entirely public, not restricted by some fancy hotel membership.

For more than 100 years, the pool, located along the shore of Bondi Beach in Australia, has been open to the public for all to enjoy. It’s got both historical landmark status, as well as plenty of social media credit. In fact, according to Swim the World, it’s the most photographed swimming pool on earth. When the pools opens again, adults can enter for just $9. Children under 12 are welcome for $6, while senior card holders can enter for $6 as well. While visiting, guests may even catch a glimpse of a few members of the Bondi Iceberg Swimclub, a swim club that was formed by a group of life savers way back in 1929.


9. Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah

Tucked within a remote valley in the middle of the Four Corners—the area of the Southwest where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona all meet—the three-year-old Amangiri resort was designed to blend seamlessly into its breathtaking desert surroundings. Created by Adrian Zecha in collaboration with architects Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette, and maestro of the desert Rick Joy, the 34-suite hotel abounds with awe-inspiring details, but perhaps the most impressive is the extraordinary swimming pool—built around a massive, 165-million-year-old Entrada sandstone rock escarpment, it snakes through the rugged terrain and is surrounded by luxurious king-size daybeds.  

Boasting one of the most dramatic landscapes in the USA, Utah’s Canyon Point is home to deep canyons, towering plateaus, world-class hiking, and of course – Amangiri. Amangiri is located in the dramatic landscape of Canyon Point, Southern Utah. The resort is tucked into a valley near the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument; to say that it blends into the landscape is an understatement. Arrive at the resort and descend towards the central Pavilion. Built around the main swimming pool, the Pavilion houses the Living Room, Gallery, Library, Dining Room, Private Dining Room, and Cellar.


10. The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

In 1999, Icelandic practice Basalt Architects masterminded Blue Lagoon, a string of geothermally-heated pools integrated into a rugged, volcanic landscape, and in 2021 Guðlaug Baths, also in Iceland, which incorporates two pools, one heated geothermally by a hot spring. Another Icelandic practice, Úti og Inni Architects, created pool complex Árbæjarlaug Árbæja in 1993. “This features an indoor pool – with a glazed dome that draws daylight in – which connects to an outdoor pool,” says one of its architects, Baldur Ó Svavarsson. “It also has a slide with water gushing down it, propelling those who ride it into a deep part of the pool to ensure no one is hurt. Another attraction is its hot tubs. Many people don’t swim, and like to sit in the tubs and discuss politics.”


11. Guðlaug baths, Iceland 

Architecturally splendid, intact interwar and postwar pools in Reykjavik, Iceland, include Sundhöll (which means swimming palace), a modernist building featuring a 25m-long pool, designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, and completed in 1937. Icelandic pools are currently celebrated in an exhibition called Bathing Culture at the Museum of Design and Applied Art in Reykjavik. By the 1960s, the exhibition shows, lidos went ludic, emphasising play over sport, with the addition of hot tubs and gigantic slides. The baths consist of a three-tiered structure, with a viewing deck on the top, a warm geothermal pool in the middle, and a cooler pool at the bottom.

These three oval-shaped forms are each oriented differently, creating an irregularly shaped volume that nestles in amongst the large boulders of the sea wall. A staircase wraps the exterior, connecting all three levels. “Choosing to put the pool in the rocks maximises the different experiences of the beach and the ocean,” said Basalt Architects partner Hrólfur Karl Cela. Open and free to the public, the baths are designed as a recreation spot for both locals and tourists. Located in Akranes, a town on Iceland’s west coast, Langisandur is one of the country’s most popular beaches. The project draws on Iceland’s historic tradition of geothermal bathing, thanks to the natural hot springs that can be found all over the country.


12. Waikiki’s War Memorial Natatorium, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial is a war memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, built in the form of an ocean water public swimming pool. The natatorium was built as living memorial dedicated to “the men and women who served during the great war” (now known as World War I). In March 1918, the Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors first proposed a memorial to the more than 10,000 men from the then Territory of Hawaii who volunteered to serve in the great war. The Honolulu Ad Club agreed with the idea and on November 20, 1918, appointed an investigative committee led by Colonel Howard Hathaway, Ned Loomis, and W.D. Westervelt to bring together representatives from all civic organizations to collaborate on the concept of a memorial beginning with a conference which was held on December 6, 1918.  At this meeting Colonel Hathway was appointed Chairman and Fred W. Beckley was appointed Secretary of the general committee on a war memorial.

Designed by renowned architect Lewis Hobart, the natatorium features a grand Beaux-Arts archway leading to its ocean-water swim basin. The archway, as well as the monument’s bleachers and bathhouses, include classical ornamentation such as friezes, pediments, statuary, and cornices. Today, the memorial, which is currently closed to the public, is one of only a few ocean-water natatoriums left in the world, and the only one of its kind in the United States. So, while you can’t swim there, it remains a beautiful monument. 


13. Kuttam Pokuna,  Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Kuttam Pokuna (twin ponds or pools) are well preserved old bathing tanks or ponds in Sri Lanka. This pair of ponds was built by the Sinhalese in the ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom. They form part of the Abhayagiri vihāra complex and are an example of the works in the field of hydrological engineering, architecture and art of the ancient Sinhalese.

Not much is known about the history of these ponds. They are generally believed to be built during the reign of king Aggabodhi I of Anuradhapura (575-608). The Central Cultural Fund, Colombo, Sri Lanka, however, names the eighth or ninth century as the time of building. The name Twin Ponds is misleading, because they are not of the same age: The smaller northern pond (see below) is said to be older than the larger southern pond. The two ponds are built in a 0.91 metres (3 ft) deep, rectangular depression lined with a low wall. Five short stairs lead from the ground level into it. Next to one of these short stairs, in the northwest corner of the compound, a stone spout protrudes from the wall. According to older descriptions of the twin ponds the spout was supported by a small sculpture of a lion. However in recent photographs there is no sign of such a sculpture. The spout is the overflow of a small cistern on the other side of the wall.Although the ponds look very much alike at first glance, there are marked differences. The punkalas of the larger pond are more ornate, for example, and so are the banisters of the stairs (see below). The sides of the large pond also have terraces on several levels, which are broad enough to walk or sit on and can be reached from the stairs.


14. The Jubilee Pool in Penzance, Cornwall

Now the Romans’ water-heating techniques are being adopted afresh in our environmentally conscious times, notably at Cornwall’s Jubilee Pool, one of the largest seawater lidos in the UK: “The drive to refurbish it was instigated in 2014 by Friends of the Jubilee Pool, a charity set up by locals, who raised £1.8m towards its renovation, with support from Cornwall Council, Penzance Council and EU funding,” says Alex Scott-Whitby, director of Scott Whitby Studio, the architects behind the refurbishment.

“The original pool’s remarkable sweeping walls break the waves, but it had suffered from being exposed to gales over 80 years,” says Scott-Whitby. “The Deco pool has a classic, seagull-wing shape and juts into the sea,” says Susan Stuart, the Jubilee Pool’s director. “Old shelters on the Victorian promenade, on to which the pool was built, were utilised for kiosks, storage and a café kitchen. We wanted to keep that simplicity but desperately needed to modernise the lido and create more space. New glass buildings link the shelters in a light-touch, modern way, neither competing with nor seeking to ape the Art Deco form.”

The restoration of the lido – and extension of its café and bar and addition of a community hall offering facilities such as art shows and fitness classes – are reviving its fortunes. “Part of the pool is geothermally heated by drilling deep into the ground and extracting warm water from it,” says Scott-Whitby. The idea for this heating method was suggested by local graphic designer Martin Nixon and his brother, Charles.”It’s the second geothermally-heated pool created in Britain; the first was the Roman one in Bath. It can be heated up to 35°C, allowing it to be used all year round. A similar pool is Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Jubilee Pool is likely to trailblaze other geothermally-heated seawater pools. Penzance is one of the [UK’s] most deprived communities, and the pool is now seen as a form of regeneration, attracting more tourists to the area.”

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15. Copenhagen Harbour Bath

Copenhagen’s harbour is in the midst of a transformation from an industrial port and traffic junction to being the cultural and social centre of the city. The Harbour Bath has been instrumental in this evolution. It extends the adjacent park over the water by incorporating the practical needs and demands for accessibility, safety and programmatic flexibility. Rather than imitating the traditional Danish indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, piers, boat ramps, cliffs, playgrounds and pontoons. As a terraced landscape, the Harbour Bath completes the transition from land to water, making it possible for the citizens of Copenhagen to go for a swim in the middle of the city. 

People go to the Harbour Bath in the way that people go to the beach rather than the indoor swimming baths. Not necessarily to exercise, but primarily to socialize, play and enjoy the sun. This means that the water should not only be able to accommodate more interactive and playful activities than the focused (and perhaps lonesome) swimming back-and-forth, the land should also be geared towards a more accommodating and generous environment. The Harbour Bath is free of charge, but for security reasons the lifeguards have to be able to control the amount of visitors. With the given water area, an equivalent swimming bath would be able to accommodate up to 600 people. The previous harbour bath allowed for only half of that amount. By increasing the land areas, but maintaining the water area within the security limit, we can extend the capacity to 600 by allowing people to chill in the sun while resting from the aquatic activities. Rather than imitating the indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, cranes, piers, boat ramps, buoys, playgrounds and pontoons.


16. Chateau Montebello Pool, Quebec 

The Fairmont Le Château Montebello, formerly and commonly known as the Château Montebello, is a historic hotel and resort complex in Montebello, Quebec, Canada. The resort complex includes a large game reserve and a large wooden structure. The wooden hotel structure was developed by Victor Nymark. he Château Montebello is a year-round resort situated within old-growth forests, and past outcroppings of the Canadian shield. The resort is on one of the last surviving land grants made by 17th-century French monarchy to early settlers of New France. The resort grounds includes a number of facilities supporting the activities offered by the resort. 

The hotel’s 23 metres (75 ft) indoor swimming pool is housed in a separate log cabin accessible from the hotel by tunnel. The indoor pool area features painted totem poles supporting the roof.  The hotel is also equipped with two whirlpool baths, two saunas, and a fitness centre. The spectacular painted ceiling looms large over the pool, creating a beautiful sight to see when floating in the pool. 


17. Amanzoe Hotel Pool, Greece

Amanzoe resort on Greece’s eastern Peloponnesian peninsula is a Doric-columned, marble-hewn hilltop homage to classicism that could wow the most demanding of deities. Indeed, mere rooms don’t cut it here: every guest gets their own free-standing, geometrically edged pavilion positioned for maximum privacy, leaving you to float from private beach club to stress-banishing spa to ex-Noma chef Dimitris Boutsalis’ simple-yet-stunning restaurant with Aman’s trademark fuss-free ease. The pools, surrounding the beautiful stone steps and pathways are crystal clear turquoise blue, flanked by fields of lavender.  Each room comes with its own private pool, which look out over a stunning view of the ocean and mountains. Set among the Peloponnese, which is the country of Greek God legends, the Amanzoe is without any doubt a place where the Gods would be staying. Here, you can escape back in time to the grandeur and majesty of Ancient Greece culture while being surrounded by modern luxury and relaxation. 


18. Water Drop Library in Shuangyue Bay, China

Chinese studio 3andwich Design has unveiled the circular Water Drop Library in Shuangyue Bay, China, which is topped with a pool overlooking the sea. Set on the hillside above Shuangyue Bay near Huizhou City in China’s Guangdong Province, the library consists of two geometric forms – a circular library and a long white wall. “The library strives to have poetic tension: looking down from a high place, the building is very geometric – a circle plus a straight line,” says 3andwich Design. “The plane shape of the main part of the building is circular, and the straight line is the outdoor corridor and long wall, which introduces people from the top of the hill into the building.”

Embedded into the hillside, the single-storey library is made up of a round reading room surrounding a central dark room. Shelving is integrated into the internal wall, while full-height glazing gives views out across the sea. Flanking the main reading room is a tea room, water bar and toilets. A stair leads up to the roof area, where 3andwich Design placed a circular pool directly above the library to create the idea of the space being underwater. A platform in the pool, which has no external railing, can be reached by a series of stepping stones.

Along with the main entrance, 3andwich Design created a “hidden path” that leads up to the roof space and pool so that readers can be taken on a journey to reach the library space. “The process of entering the library is not simple,” said the studio. “Because the building is located on a hill and we designed a tortuous path on the north slope of the hill.” The pool is a spectacular scene from the top, as it becomes integrated with the view of oceans and mountain. 


19. Miramonti – Merano

Situated high above the South Tyrol town of Merano, at a dizzying 1230 meters above sea level, the Miramonti hotel seamlessly combines nature and design by introducing boutique luxury into an alpine context. The vibe is one of total tranquility – a place to slow down and experience the amazing natural beauty of the area. Along with a Japanese-inspired onsen pool, the hotel also boasts a heated saltwater infinity pool balanced high in the mountains, where you cannot help but feel as though you’re reaching into the sky. Boasting a breathtaking view and surrounded by ancient woodlands, the MIRAMONTI was built on porphyry. Pure bliss inside and out thanks to the expert guidance of hosts Carmen and Klaus and their 50 team members.

The use of rich wood and white colouring throughout lend Miramonti a sense of serenity. And with gables that resemble the peaks that surround it, this is a hotel that’s connected with its natural surroundings. Unwind in the spa, with steam baths and saunas that seem carved from the rocks. Planned by the Tara architects Heike Pohl and Andreas Zanier and built by local craftsmen, the ONSEN POOL brings together two worlds: Japanese bathing and alpine recreation. The ancient ritual of bathing and resting on our solar platforms surrounded by the rugged rock.


20. Alpin Panorama Hotel Hubertus, South Tyrol, Italy

The Sky pool at the Alpin Panorama Hotel Hubertus is an infinity pool with a difference. While most pools are designed to create the optical illusion of joining with the sea, this one doesn’t. It fuses, as the name suggests, with the sky. The Sky pool is a mammoth, eighty-two foot long construction suspended on stilts forty feet above the ground. The stilts are solid trees, with knots and natural features. The end wall and a panel in the base are glass so when you swim you have the sensation you’re almost flying. Whether you’ve been hiking the Dolomites in the summer or skiing there in winter, a swim in this pool will make your stay in the South Tyrol just that bit more special. The views of the pine-clad mountains are even more impressive when seen from in the water.


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