7 Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools From Around the World

By Ingrid Fetell Lee
David Hockney Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools
David Hockney at his home, 1983. Image by Mary E. Nichols.

A running joke in my house is that neither of us wanted a swimming pool.

One day, that first summer in our current home, my husband turned to me and said, “I’m really glad you wanted a pool. I didn’t think I would want one but it’s actually kind of nice.”

“What?!” I said. “I didn’t want a pool. I thought we got a pool because you wanted it. But I gotta say, it is kinda nice.”

Now, in the rare moment when we find ourselves swimming laps together, we look at each other and say, “I’m really glad you wanted a pool.” And burst out laughing.

While there’s no greater thrill than swimming in the ocean, a pool is a more quotidian pleasure. No big waves to crash on your head, no undertow to worry about, no curious fish to give your ankles a nip. Pools are easy, sparkling delight. (For more thoughts on the joy of swimming pools, and their downsides, see here.)

7 Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools From Around the World

Any pool is a good pool as far as I’m concerned, but some swimming pools have been transformed by artists or designers to be truly awe-inspiring spots. These are six stunning pools I’d love to swim in one day, (plus one I have and loved!).

David Hockney painting a pool
David Hockney painting a pool, source unknown.

David hockney’s painted pools, various locations

In fact, David Hockney is known for his many paintings of swimming pools. But perhaps less known is that he also painted the inside of several pools in the Los Angeles area, including at his own home. Swimming pools were an immediate attraction for Hockney, who once described seeing them as he was arriving into Los Angeles for the first time: “As I flew over San Bernardino and looking down and saw the swimming pools and the houses and everything and the sun, I was more thrilled than I’ve ever been arriving at any other city…”

Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools by David Hockney
A painted pool by David Hockney, via Artnet

Hockney’s pools have a joyful simplicity, their blue lines echoing the natural movements of the water itself. For more on how the pool has shown up in Hockney’s work, see here.

hexagonal pool | Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools
Image via @kellybehunstudio on Instagram

hexagrace, on the roof of auditorium rainier III, Monaco

After just one look at this incredible mosaic pool, you won’t be surprised to discover that it was designed by Victor Vasarely, one of the founders of Op Art. The shape of this one is totally unique. And that view!

Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools painted with vibrant, abstract designs.
Pool design by Alex Proba, image by Madeline Tolle

Alex Proba’s pool murals, various locations

Alex Proba’s work exemplifies the aesthetic of abundance. Over the last few years, she has transformed both private and public pools with vibrant, lively collections of abstract shapes and textures. This pool, at a private residence in Palm Springs, is one of my favorites.

A pool shot from above with colorful patterns on the deck and chairs with umbrellas around.
Manhattan Park Pool by Alex Proba. Image by Max Touhey.

I also love her deckside mural for the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Park Pool (above). Definitely a joyful place to do some summer laps. More about Alex Proba’s pools here.

A swimming pool with giant red and white mushroom sculptures towering over it.
Source unknown

sretsis mermaid bar pool at seen space, hua hin, thailand

If you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re a fairy in a forest oasis, this would be the place. Created by fashion designers Sretsis, the Mermaid Bar Pool features giant mushrooms that turn an ordinary swim into a magical experience. It’s unclear whether the mushrooms are permanent or just a temporary installation, but here’s hoping someone decides that giant mushrooms should be a part of more pool designs.

Awe-Inspiring Swimming Pools with vibrant tiled lines and curves swooping through the surface of the pool.
Image by Allan Pollok-Morris, via Jupiter Artland

Gateway, jupiter artland, edinburgh, scotland

Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos created Gateway as a swimmable installation for Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park outside Edinburgh, Scotland. In the artist’s words, “Gateway is a big splash that invites the public to immerse in a joyful and spirited dimension, leading to a connection with the energy of the Earth.”

The pool is made up of 11,366 hand-painted and glazed tiles, crafted using traditional methods at a 100-year-old factory in Vasconcelos’ native Portugal. The energetic patterns are inspired by Vasconcelos’s own astrological chart. More info here.

A picture of a turquoise lap pool surrounded on three sides by ocean.
Bondi Icebergs Pool by Prajwal433 via Wikimedia Commons

bondi icebergs, sydney, australia

I was lucky enough to live across the harbor from this pool for a year, and it is about as magical as it looks. Sydney was where I learned to swim laps, in an array of ocean-fed swimming pools around the harbor. As amazing as Icebergs seems, it’s only one of dozens of beautiful pools tucked into the edges of Sydney’s crenelated harbor and coastline.

I have so many beautiful memories of these pools. Check out more examples of them here.

An oval swimming pool with a harlequin pattern surrounding it, and greenery.
Via Elephant Art

alfonso ossorio estate, long island, New york

Filipino artist Alfonso Ossorio created this colorblocked, harlequin print masterpiece in 1970 for his East Hampton, New York residence. I love the strong colors, which are so unusual in contemporary pool design. For more info, see here.

August 17th, 2023


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