Water mirror: what it is, how to use it and spaces to inspire

Water mirror


The house is our refuge, and it is essential, therefore, that it has a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere. To achieve this, there are several architectural and decorative resources, and the reflecting pool is a great alternative for those looking for a calmer and more natural environment.

In addition to its aesthetic value, this element can also be quite functional, as a spatial barrier and contribute to the thermal comfort of the environment.

The water mirror can be present in projects for the most diverse uses, from a house, a residential condominium, a commercial building, and even in public buildings.

What is a water mirror?

The reflecting pool is nothing more than a continuous surface of the water, exposed to the outdoors, like a shallow pool of water, approximately 20 to 60 cm deep.

This is an architectural resource that can be used either with the function of reflecting the surroundings or the building where it is, as a decorative element, or also as an access barrier.

In public buildings, such as government offices or religious buildings, it is used to inspire solemnity and reflection.

Such a resource is so versatile – it can have different dimensions, shapes and materials – that it is used both in large-scale buildings and in smaller houses.

Advantages of having a mirror at home

In addition to its aesthetic value, and achieving a more zen atmosphere, the water mirror also has functional advantages to have at home.

As a surface with water, linked to the interior spaces of the house, this element helps to cool the environment, as it increases the relative humidity of the air. Therefore, this feature is ideal for dry places.

Weekend house, designed by Angelo Bucci.

In Brazil, for example, the water mirror is a solution that responds well to most climates, which may explain its presence in buildings with the most varied uses.

In addition, it can also serve as a water reservoir, to be used in urgent cases such as a fire, as well as for the use of taps, for example. For this, the water mirror must be part of a system that has a main or auxiliary reservoir, pumps, and water treatment stations.

How to use the water mirror in architecture

The reflecting pool can be introduced into an architectural project in different ways, resulting in very different spaces.

In landscaping, unlike an ornamental artificial lake, this water surface is used to delimit and separate environments.

Water mirror designed in harmony with the landscaping.

Water mirror designed in harmony with the landscaping.

When placed in dialogue with the architecture, it can be present in the building’s access, marking the route, as well as in internal patios, as a breath of nature inside the house.

Water mirror as a star in the winter garden. Water mirror as a star in the winter garden.

The water mirror can even serve to compose a winter garden, containing floating and hanging plants, such as being in dialogue with a green wall, for example. Thus, in addition to the plants, the entire house will benefit from the freshness of the water added to the fresh air coming from the green.

Water mirror: from design to maintenance

The water mirror is a resource that must be idealized with the architectural and/or landscaping project, with care in the selection of materials and, after it is ready, must have careful maintenance.


The reflecting pool can be conceived quite freely. As a guide to help in this process, it can be based on the existing architecture, the format of the available space, and also the terrain, in addition to existing important trees, for example.

When placed entirely outdoors, combined with the landscape design, this element can take on organic forms, for example, resembling a small lake.

When combined with architecture, it is usually composed of orthogonal geometric shapes, based on lines and axes that depart from the architecture. Thus, it results in an element that is harmonious with the architecture in which it is inserted.


The water mirror, when idealized with the architectural project, is built simultaneously with it.

As for a swimming pool, the water mirror starts from an excavation in the ground, which is then covered by an impermeable membrane and receives the concreting. As it is an element that houses water, it must have a specific structural calculation and be built with care.


The responsible for the color of the water mirror is the coating, which is why choosing such material is so important in its design.

The most used are stones, which can be from natural stones, as well as tablets or tiles.

In addition to ceramic coverings, the water mirror can also be made with exposed concrete.


Like an artificial lake and a swimming pool, the body of water must also be constantly cleaned and maintained.

Cleaning is done through a low-power filtration system. For this, it is essential to avoid the use of chlorine and chemicals, since the water mirror is in contact with natural elements of vegetation.

Water mirror environments to inspire 

The water mirror can be inserted in different types of buildings and in different ways, with the characteristic of resulting in fresher spaces that evoke natural tranquility.

Water mirror of the weekend house, designed by Angelo Bucci.

In the emblematic project for a weekend home in the city of São Paulo, architect Angelo Bucci designs a ground floor where the boundary between interior and exterior is blurred. Water is an element present in all rooms of the house, on the ground floor, from water mirrors, which receive water from the upper floors through waterfalls.

Mipibu House, designed by Terra and Tuma, with a water mirror.

In the house designed by the Terra e Tuma office, water occupies the entire surface of the house’s inner courtyard, which, with the insertion of plants on the ground and suspended, becomes the winter garden.

Casa Neblina, designed by FGMF.

At Casa Neblina, the water mirror makes the architecture seem to float on the water, providing lightness and tranquility to the space.

Library designed by Atelier Branco.

In this building, the water mirror appears on the roof, serves as a limit, replacing a guardrail.

Sesc 24 de Maio, pool cafe floor. Source: Author's personal archive, Victoria Baggio.

Another example of the water mirror as the limit of space is on the floor of the Sesc 24 de Maio café, designed by the MMBB office in partnership with the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha.

In this space, what was supposed to be a barrier, becomes a place of coolness and play on hot days, proving that the water mirror can also be used as a space for observing and also for being.