Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

New exhibition space Casa de Los Volcanes in Los Jameos del Agua

Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote, Islas Canarias


GPY Architects


Roland Halbe

The Jameos del Agua complex is part of the island of Lanzarote’s network of Art, Culture and Tourism Centres (Centros de Arte, Cultura y Turismo, CACT). It is an architectural work designed in several phases over more than twenty years by the multidisciplinary artist César Manrique. It was built along the section of the Corona lava tube that runs closest to the coast and is made up of a subterranean garden together with a building complex known as the Casa de Los Volcanes.

The subterranean garden at the Jameos del Agua is a Gesamtkunstwerk, a territorial readymade artwork that foreshadows the land art movement and anticipates the concept of public art. The Casa de Los Volcanes was initially designed to hold a hotel, although this use was eventually ruled out even before construction had been completed. As a result, part of the building complex was left unfinished and unused. Since then, the Jameos del Agua has been left as an unfinished project, with latent spaces that are concealed from the visitor, waiting to be put to new use.

The GPY Architects project makes use of micro-demolitions in the interior spaces originally intended for use as apartments, thus opening them up for inclusion in the complex as exhibition spaces and adding an extra layer to the building’s dynamics. The project retains the white volumes that characterize the external appearance of the Casa de Los Volcanes and preserves the structure’s footprint and spatial organization consisting of voids alternating with filled spaces, as defined by the sequences of patios and terraces between the existing blocks; it proposes moving from the transversal, atomized reality of the terraced apartment modules to a linear, longitudinal reality that integrates the exhibition space into the complex’s single, continuous route, while at the same time offering visitor-friendly connection points between the building’s different levels.

The New Casa de Los Volcanes Exhibition Space is made up of a continuous linear route that can be seen as a tube of light; through a series of skylights, the space is revealed as an abstract spatial sequence of illuminated and unlit spaces, of roof and sky, of tubes and jameos* or grottoes, that together make up the spatial experience of the Jameos del Agua’s volcanic tube. By incorporating the available unfinished spaces into the overall discourse of the Jameos del Agua complex, this new intervention offers a re-interpretation and completion of this major work of environmental art. It seeks to overcome the current dichotomy of the Casa de Los Volcanes versus the subterranean garden, of landscape versus architecture, to present the entire Jameos del Agua complex as a single unit of architecture as landscape.

*Jameo is an indigenous term, known only on the island of Lanzarote, that refers to the roofless grotto that is produced when a lava tube’s roof collapses. ALVAR, M. (2011). Toponimia de Lanzarote y de los Islotes de su demarcación. Taro de Tahíche (Teguise): Fundación César Manrique. pp. 302-303.


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