Designing from destruction

Inside the volcano

Using nature

Lanzarote  was once a fertile island.

Then a way of life was destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

There is not much that can be done when fields and pastures are destroyed, and a way of life disappears.

Volcanic ash and rock buried everything that had once been fresh and beautiful.

However, years later, a man emerged with vision. He saw that  disaster could be turned into asset.

He found several  volcano bubbles joined together, and the picture shows what he managed to achieve.

This is  thinking outside the box on a grand scale: to turn the products of natural catastrophe into a home.

I’ve been there and visited – and this picture does not do it justice – believe me.

But if you’re in a hot dry land and you want respite from the sun’s glare, somewhere cool and relaxing, you’ll find it here.

This is design using the environment. It is incredibly clever. Even the pool is almost subterranean.

The house consists of five bubbles – he calls them “spaces”  – there are no interconnecting doors. One area  flows freely into another.

The creator was Cesar Manrique – and this link will show more astounding pictures of his work – . He loved his island home and preferred doing things simply. Anyone who has been to Lanzarote will have heard of him.

When he died he left many examples of his genius.

He drew his ideas for his  designs on anything that came to hand  – from serviettes to cigarette packets. It was important to give his idea form. Everything was kept simple and in keeping with the surroundings.

But of all the examples that I saw, this volcano house was the most stunning – the most unusual – the most haunting.

And it wasn’t simply the buildings – it was the reputation that he created, which brought  complete devotion from his followers. When Cesar spoke, you have the feeling that everyone on the island listened.

He became so influential that he could hold sway over the planning and infrastructure of a whole island. He decreed that no building on the island should be more than two stories high.  When a multiple story building was built, it stood empty for years while the debate raged. It was decided that there should be no more.

What factors were at work? What message was conveyed that everyone was able to relate to and understand.

Was it the simplicity of ideas, the love of his country and his desire to promote the very best features in a way that was understood? And to use the worst in a way that was awe-inspiring?

One thing is certain. Cesar was a leader  – he had vision – and he took his people with him.

Linda McLean


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