I Decided to do this post as I was recently on a trip to Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of North Western Africa. I had heard of Cesar Manrique previously but had never seen his work up close so I decided to go on one of the trips to his former home, now a museum in his honour. The selling point of the trip is that his home is made from the hollow insides of old Lava bubbles! Now this sounds interesting! So, I went along to find out more…
A little background first, The artists impressive home was remodelled entirely by himself in the early nineties to become both a museum and a headquarters for the foundation he helped create, engaging in the promotion of artistic, environmental and cultural activities. It was formerly his home before he moved northwards for a quieter life away from the spotlight of visitors and media.
The house is built on a 3000 sqm lot, the site of a lava flow from the volcanic eruptions which took place between 1730 and 1736. Upon his return from New York in 1966, Cesar Manrique decided to take up permanent residence in Lanzarote and during that year he embarked upon his domestic architectural project.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The two story building, built over five very large natural volcanic bubbles or lava caves, has a floor space of 1,800 sqm, 1,200 sqm of terraces and gardens and a 2,900 sq m parking lot.
The upper floor is modeled after traditional Lanzarote architecture but manages to incorporate modern and practical elements such as large windows and, open spaces etc, without compromising the harmony of the structure. On this floor we find the main parlour, the kitchen (where graphic works are now displayed), a sitting room, a guest room, the artist’s bedroom (currently called the ”Bocetos” [sketches] hall ) and a spacious bathroom which is now filled with abundant plant life
The basement level incorporates the five natural volcanic bubbles which Cesar Manrique connected by means of small passageways bored into the lava flow basalt and conditioned as living quarters. The cave in the centre houses an unexpected recreational area, including a pool, small dance floor, oven, etc all decorated with abundant plant life. The final chamber before exiting the building is the painters former studio, which was enlarged when the building was remodelled for the inauguration of the foundation. Cesar Manrique’s paintings are exhibited in this room.
From an artistic standpoint, The Taro de Tahiche has 2 fundamental characteristics: the harmonic synthesis between a modern conception of architectural space and traditional Lanzarote architecture; and the extraordinary dialogue established between the building and its surrounding environment, in a unique relationship characterised by communication and respect. The Foundation headquarters’ beauty, originality, symbolic value and spirituality make it an essential cultural asset in its own right.
The undisputed artistic significance of the building itself is of even greater relevance in the framework of Manrique’s work as a whole, considering that it emcompasses practically all of the essential characteristics of the artist’s integrative approach to ART-NATURE / NATURE-ART.
Check out the pics below to see just how funky this residence is.
This overlooks the lava fields and the bubbles that were later hollowed out and incorporated into the design of the house.
Thats a swimming pool built into this lava bubble where its roof collapsed in, allowing this view from above.
This is where it gets more interesting! Leading into one of the Lava bubbles below ground…
This passageway was carved out of the Basalt rock, and with the low lighting along the ground and the white painted floor this creates a surreal atmosphere as you walk through.
This part of the house contains many large Art works, like an exhibition centre showcasing an artist.