On a hot summer day, a pool is a pool. When all you can think about is cooling off and escaping the heat, if the water is clean and the sun is beating down, function overshadows form. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean aesthetics doesn’t matter. Prolific architects have long included pools in their designs as integral elements of a property’s visual significance. While these swimming pools beautifully complement the environment they’re built for, they are often stunning in their own rights, too. Below, AD looks back at seven iconic pools designed by some of the biggest names in architecture.

Image of a pool in front of a midcentury ranch housePhoto: Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The swimming pool at Das Canoas House, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

Built: 1951

Designed by Oscar Niemeyer as his family’s home, Das Canoas House is considered a pristine example of modern Brazilian architecture. The boulder anchors the pool and the house while also creating a juxtaposition between the natural and artificial.

Aerial shot of a pool built into a beach with the rock borders around the oceanPhoto: View Pictures/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Tidal pools at Leça da Palmeira, in Portugal

Architect: Álvaro Siza

Built: 1966

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.

Image of indoor pool with grey vals quartzite wallsPhoto: Jeremy Mason McGraw ELITE INT PHOTO courtesy of 7132 Hotel, Vals

Therme Vals, in Switzerland

Architect: Peter Zumthor

Construction: 1993-1996

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.

Image of a pool with red waterPhoto: Lluís Carbonell Courtesy of Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura

A private swimming pool, in Catalonia

Architect: Ricardo Bofill

Construction: 1973

The red color of this private pool certainly makes a splash. Designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, the pool is surrounded by an outdoor deck that encircles the entire structure with cascading steps that lead swimmers into the rosy water.

Image of modernist home with poolPhoto: J-L. Paillé/Centre des monuments nationaux 2022

Villa Cavrois Swimming Pool in Croix, France

Architect : Robert Mallet-Stevens

Construction: 1929-1932

This 88.5-foot swimming pool sits directly next to the boiler room at the Villa Cavrois, a 1932 modernist mansion designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens for Paul Cavrois. 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.

Image of a pool with water coming out of fountain surrounded by a white wall and a pink wallPhoto: Armando Salas Portugal courtesy of Barragan Foundation

Cuadra San Cristóbal Pool in Los Clubes, Mexico

Architect: Luis Barragán

Construction: 1968

Although the pool at Cuadra San Cristóbal, a private estate, might look inviting, it’s actually not designed for humans. Instead, the watering hole is made specifically for horses to swim in and drink from. While this may seem unexpected, it makes perfect sense given the pool borders stables that are on the property.

Photo of Casa Monterrey. Shot of exterior view with pool and sun loungersPhoto: Edmund Sumner-VIEW/Alamy 

Casa Monterrey, in Monterrey, Mexico

Architect: Tadao Andō

Construction: 2011-2013

This residential property, designed by Tadao Andō just over 10 years ago, features an extraordinary swimming pool that starts on one side of the house and extends into a cantilever overlooking the Sierra Madre mountains.