Finding César Manrique on Tenerife

Mon, January 28th, 2013 - By Andrea Montgomery

Born on the neighbouring island of Lanzarote where his influence has carved its mark irrevocably and stunningly on that unique landscape, César Manrique’s work made its way to many of the Canary Islands. Tenerife is no exception.


Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz


Artist, architect, sculptor and environmentalist, César Manrique was born in Arrecife on Lanzarote in 1919. Growing up in a middle class family where they owned a weekend retreat on the coast at Famara, Manrique grew up amidst what he described as “a place of extraordinary beauty that I will never forget in all of my life.”

Training as an architect in the University of La Laguna and then later in Madrid, Manrique returned to Lanzarote with the intention of “turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places in the planet.” Manrique’s mantra was that man’s intervention on Nature should complement and enhance, not interfere and fight. He advocated using only the natural materials that were found around the islands to construct buildings and attractions. His designs reflected the shapes and colours of the landscape and used Nature’s forces to their advantage.


Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz


Working with the Tenerife island authority, Manrique applied his philosophy to the major works of Lago Martianez in Puerto de la Cruz which he was commissioned to design in the 1960s. The pine ‘mast’ for the ‘island’ bar came from La Guanche near Icod de Los Vinos and the volcanic rocks came from Las Aguas in San Juan de la Rambla. The children’s swimming pool is a homage to the sea that borders the pools and the haunting sculpture of Las Raices del Cielo (Aerial Roots) are 12 local trees planted upside down. At the entrance to the swimming pools, and now the town’s casino which lies beneath the lake, is one of Manrique’s trademark Juguetes del Viento (Wind Toys), the sculptures that capture the breeze and use it to create a constantly moving piece of art.


Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz


Further along Puerto’s coast lies Playa Jardín (the garden beach) where Manrique designed a vast garden of endemic plants to back the 600 metre stretch of shoreline and create a natural space for people to wander and enjoy a shady retreat from the afternoon heat.


Playa Jardin, Puerto de la Cruz


Blending with its environment to such an extent that sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the hotel from the beach, is Hotel Playa Sur Tenerife in El Médano, another of Manrique’s designs. Its low rise, sandstone walls morph almost imperceptibly with the golden sands of  Playa El Médano which are prone to invade its gardens with their quirky sculptures.


Hotel Playa Sur Tenerife


In 1995, emulating the beauty and creativity of Lago Martianez in designs drawn up by César Manrique, Santa Cruz initiated its Parque Marítimo swimming pools. Manrique’s hand can clearly be seen in the trademark design that follows the curves of the landscape; the use of volcanic rocks from the area, salt water from the sea and palm trees and plants that grow naturally on the island.

Manrique’s unique talents and philosophies have created living artwork wherever they are seen, enhancing the environment while preserving it for future generations. The man himself died in a car crash in 1992 but his spirit lives on in his work for everyone to experience and enjoy.

Posted : Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 11:23 am
Category : about tenerife
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