Do you know, how your dream house or apartment should look like? No, I don’t ask about any nice place you consider to be affordable. Forget about any limitations and let your fantasy go wild for a while. I’m practicing such visualisations quite often.
My fantasy often brings me to a house situated between the sea and the mountains. I see the place, that is the fusion of traditional local architecture with the modern elements. Large windows with gorgeous views, organic shapes, stone, open space and harmony with the environment is a must.
Museo César Manrique
On our holiday in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, we visited couple of stunning places designed by the artist and architect César Manrique. One of my favorites was the house and artist’s studio, Casa/Museo César Manrique. It has all attributes of my dream home, and even more.
The most incredible is that Manrique designed his, in many aspects modern looking, house combined with the traditional decorations of Lanzarote, fifty years ago!
What makes it truly unique is the fact that he used volcanic underground bubbles and lava channels as the foundation for the house. It looks really magic and these underground rooms are ideal for hot summer days. On the other side, rooms in the upper part of the house offer lots of air and light. Thanks to the swimming pool with an azure blue water, fountain, art works and exotic plants, this place looks like a private paradise.
Life of a Master
But not only house inspired me, the artist himself and his life is full of interesting facts, too. He was born at Lanzarote, but in his twenties, he had left for studies to Madrid, where he stayed for more than a decade. That shaped him significantly, same as the two-year lasting working stay in New York. Between that he traveled around the world and gained an overview that is so important for every artist.
Even though New York gave Manrique the amazing opportunities, after two years he got tired of it. As he wrote to his friend “Man was not created for this artificiality. There is an imperative need to go back to the soil. Feel it, smell it. That’s what I feel.” Then, after twenty years, he came back home.
“When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the most beautiful places in the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote had to offer.”
Quite an ambitious plan, right? In my opinion, he really made his vision real.
One of the Most Beautiful Places
Manrique had a major influence on the planning regulations in Lanzarote. He lobbied successfully to encourage development of tourism, in line with ecology. Unlikely to other Canary Islands there are no high-rise hotels in Lanzarote. All the hotels keep the traditional colours in their exterior decorations. During our stay in Lanzarote, we always had so much to explore, because he designed many beautiful restaurants, museum, concert venue etc.
We truly appreciated the fact all the houses at the island are white and low, combined with blue, green or brown shutters. They looked like they were created by nature itself, rather than by man’s hand.
If someone expected Manrique to be a bohemian artist, it couldn’t be further from the reality. In fact, he was a purist. He didn’t drink any alcohol, didn’t smoke and couldn’t stand anyone smoking close to him. He never had a family or spouse. His happiness came from the art making. Manrique rushed to his atelier every day, starting to work at dawn and, in the evening, going to sleep early. In his spare time, he enjoyed company of his friends, grilling with them and swimming in the swimming pool.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to make a to-do-list for tomorrow, right now. We need to start somewhere, to bring more beauty to this world… 😉
© Creative direction and Editing: DANIELA RIFAI Photos: DANIELA RIFAI Assistance: MARTIN JESNY