Avant Garde Design in the North of Tenerife

Wed, August 13th, 2014 - By Andrea Montgomery

Living in the north of Tenerife, traditional Canarian architecture is everywhere. From traditional hotels and quaint courtyards to restaurants in historic buildings, the cities, town and villages are peppered with building façades that resemble the flanks of a Friesian cow. In the midst of all that island tradition, modernity can either complement or jar and one man’s architectural gem is another’s eyesore. These are just some of the designs that work for me.


Tenerife Auditorium, Santa Cruz


Naturally when it comes to iconic contemporary design, the Tenerife Auditorium takes the spotlight. Love it or loathe it, Santiago Calatrava’s trademark design of sweeping curves with an ice-white finish sits perfectly here at the entrance to the port and capital city of Santa Cruz, reflecting the brilliant sun and echoing the waves of the Ocean at its feet.


Lighthouse, Punta del Hidalgo


The lighthouse at Punta del Hidalgo is possibly the most incongruous of locations for avant garde architecture, sitting as it does along an über traditional coastline frequented by locals who live in La Laguna and spend their summer weekends here. But the ‘finger of God pointing heavenly’ design and the isolation of the structure on its headland position just works somehow. To me it says reliability and endurability, which is just what you need from a lighthouse.


Buenavista Lighthouse


Punta del Hidalgo isn’t the only contemporary Tenerife lighthouse on the island. Another fine piece of architectural design is the Buenavista lighthouse which resembles a corkscrew (or is that just Freudian on my part?), its spiral staircase open to the elements.


Humboldt's Mirador, La Orotava


In the heart of Tenerife’s most historic of municipalities, a design which really shouldn’t work but does, is Humboldt’s Mirador in La Orotava (temporarily closed). Set into the side of the La Orotava Valley, the low, semi-circular design matches the curve of the valley and fronted by garden terraces, is barely visible from a distance. Up close, the plain grey finish is lifted by the addition of whimsical elements, and the open terrace is a superb vantage point over the valley, Puerto de la Cruz and Mount Teide.


TEA (Tenerife Espacio de les Artes)


Blending superb design with functionality is an essential balance in architecture and one of the buildings that achieves that beautifully for me is TEA (Tenerife Espacio de les Artes). Designed by Herzog and De Meuron who frequently favour the use of glass panels and reflective surfaces, along with Virgilio Gutiérrez, the building is a series of geometric shapes built around an open space and interconnecting while remaining distinct. The use of 1200 panes of glass mathematically designed to capture the sun’s movement ensure that the space is flooded with light. As an art gallery, library and theatre space, it all works superbly and as a feature of the city, it’s a work of art itself.


Recinto Ferial, Santa C ruz


I started this piece with Santiago Calatrava and I’m finishing it with another of his Tenerife designs. Less obvious but no less impressive is the Recinto Ferial de Tenerife in Santa Cruz. Looking like a silver eye from above, the sleek, oval structure delivers exactly what’s required of it – one of the largest, non-pillared exhibition floors in Europe – and it does it with grace and elegance.

Posted : Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 at 3:13 pm
Category : about tenerife
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