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Outer Spaces

Wednesday April 29, 2009

Outer Spaces

The island born artist and architect César Manrique is best known for his large body of work on Lanzarote. Encompassing the bulk of the islands leading tourist attractions such as the Jameos del Agua and the Mirador del Rio. But this creative Canarian also found time to undertake a number of other large scale projects across Spain. Including a shopping centre in Madrid, a brace of miradors on the islands of El Hierro and La Gomera and maritime parks in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Ceuta. All bearing his familiar design hallmarks.

La Vaguada Shopping Centre - Madrid

La Vaguada was Manrique´s first high profile project away from his native Lanzarote. Creating what was at that time the largest shopping centre in Spain's capital city.

It opened to huge acclaim in 1983 - rapidly becoming the place to shop and apparently proving so popular that at weekends it was literally bursting at the seams during its first few years of business.

Its popularity has died away somewhat now as other malls have sprung up in its wake. But this enormous three storey building features many design touches - such as the rooftop sails which have since become familiar flourishes on other projects of this type.

Mirador de la Peña – El Hierro

The island of El Hierro lies at the opposite, western most end of the Canarian archipelago to Lanzarote. Volcanic in origin, El Hierro is greener and more verdant, boasting juniper and pine forests - as well as the sort of rugged and raw coastline found on Lanzarote at locations such as Los Hervidores.

Recent eruptions here have produced the beginnings of a new island and evidence of past volcanic activity is also evident everywhere.  For example, there are over 1000 craters on El Hierro – and the island experienced its last eruption as recently as 200 years ago. Like Lanzarote the island is a UNESCO protected biosphere but is much smaller in size, measuring just 270km square.

The Mirador de la Peña was first opened in 1989 and is located some 740 metres up above El Hierro's breathtaking El Golfo valley, granting great views down to Roques de Salmor and Punta Grande below.

The design bears many similarities to Lanzarote´s Mirador del Rio. The lookout spot located in the north of the island which was formerly a naval gun battery - transformed initially into a restaurant by Manrique back in 1983.

Today Lanzarote´s mirador serves just snacks and drinks. But the Mirador de la Peña is home to a top class restaurant - featured in the Michelin Guide and highly regarded for the quality of it cuisine. Which resolves around traditional Canarian recipes. The building itself utilises local materials such as volcanic stone and is one of the most popular tourist attractions on El Hierro.

Mirador del Palmarejo - La Gomera

La Gomera is the smaller sister island located just off Tenerife. And the Valle del Gran Rey - Valley of the Great King - is one of the greenest and most picturesque spots on the island. Comprised of several small villages and terraced agricultural land.

Manrique designed the mirador here in 1989 and it is located at the top of the valley at Arure. Just like the Mirador de la Peña it now operates as a restaurant.  Serving classic Canarian cuisine with a modern twist. And blends seamlessly into its surroundings thanks to the use of local building materials.

Mediterranean Maritime Park - Ceuta

Ceuta is one of Spain's two enclaves in North Africa - along with Melilla. Located on the north eastern tip of the Moroccan coast.

Manrique started preliminary work on this project in 1989 but it was completed posthumously in 1992. Covering an area of around 50,000 square metres and featuring two huge salt water lakes, gardens and even a castle in the middle. Along with a nightclub and a casino. A concept that was also replicated in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1991.

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