Underground Living on Lanzarote

Lanzarote – the eastern most Canary Island – is home to some of the most unusual real estate on the planet. Thanks to a cataclysmic volcanic eruption – which lasted six years from 1730. Which covered one quarter of the island in solidified lava – so forcing a serious re-think about how to construct homes and houses.

This unique architectural approach is today best epitomized by the incredible home of the island born artist and architect Cesar Manrique – owner of what is undoubtedly the most famous and surreal property in Lanzarote.

Back in the 1960´s Manrique created a house within a series of five volcanic bubbles, which still blows visitors away to this day. This ingenious feat of architecture was Manrique´s first major piece of work on Lanzarote and encapsulates his organic approach and desire to create a perfect symbiosis between man, art and nature.

In the early 1960´s Manrique was studying art in New York and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Andy Warhol. But as tourism started to take off back on his native island he felt the urge to return. Afraid that his beloved Lanzarote could be buried beneath a sea of four star hotels and apartments. As had happened in other Spanish sun spots.

With the help of influential family friends such as Pepin Ramirez – then leader of the island government – he championed an ecological approach towards development. But he needed a flagship project to convince his skeptical fellow islanders. Many of whom doubted his assertions that Lanzarote could evolve as a viable tourist destination.

Manrique discovered his site by walking the lava fields that surround much of Tahiche. A small village, which is centrally located on Lanzarote. Here, the green tip of a fig tree caught his eye growing just above the sea of black volcanic rock. And on closer inspection he found that this emerged from one of five large bubbles that had been created within the flow.

Work commenced, the five underground chambers were interconnected, and by the end of 1968 Manrique´s creation was complete. Providing him with the perfect work and exhibition space and Lanzarote with a blueprint for future development.

 

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