When Nature Becomes Land Art

Lanzarote is a distinctive island of Gran Canarias, because of an artist, as well architect, César Manrique. His contribution to Lanzarote is not merely several projects, also lies in unifying a place with regulations to prevent it from excessive commercial development. But on each project, we could see a conversation he made with the topography, based on an embodied experience- this made his project include to nature, even when the houses are simply painted white in minimalism style. The experience is hard to tell in snapshots of the photograph because what makes sense is a wandering in successive time.


Jameos del Agua


After visiting to three representative projects of César Manrique- Jameos del Agua, César Manrique Foundation, and The Cactus Garden, we discovered that César likes to guide people in his buildings with the change of viewpoint- just like what the ancient Chinese gardens did- every step forward, the view is not the same.


César Manrique Foundation


In these three projects, similarly, the viewer is involved into the building by an entrance, gets inside or outside, descends into the volcanic bubbles, then climbs up again to get a surprising bird view of the whole bubble. The contract brought by artificial white on houses and pools emphasis the natural black on volcanic lavas. Visitors get surprised because the bubbles created by volcanic eruptions never was noticed before and nobody ever thought houses could be built inside the bubbles. According to the anecdote in César loved to dance, one day during his visit to Lanzarote after long being in New York, the architect César Manrique was astonished by seeing a tree only with the top and without the trunk, that was the moment he discovered the bubbles. By a closer observation, rather than cover them or use them to store water, he came up with the idea of constructing his house in five bubbles. This is today the César Manrique Foundation.


The Cactus Garden


His projects on Lanzarote are hard to describe merely by word or photos. The collage of views from inside the bubbles and views above them may represent better the original idea of artist César, when you treat terrain as space for live and wander, nature becomes land art.


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