Saturday, January 12, 2013

Save Corrales & Molezún's Oasis!

During Spain's tourist boom in the 1960's, the Hotel Maspalomas Oasis on the island of Gran Canaria, built by Madrid architects Ramón Vázquez Molezón and José Antonio Corrales, set a model for what resort architecture could have been but rarely was, preserving its spectacular natural setting instead of consuming it.

Now over 40 years old, the complex has been slated for demolition by its owners this spring, as preservationists scramble to try to save it. The hotel is one of 160 works cataloged by the Docomomo Iberia Foundation as part of the Spain's 20th Century Architectural Heritage.
From J.A. Sosa

Here is José Antonio Sosa's description of the project in a guide to modern architecture in the Canary Islands:
"The hotel is located in one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Canary Island's coastline, a natural oasis not far from the Maspalomas Pond that takes advantage of a splendid forest of Phoenix Canariensis....
The architectonic organization of the building takes the privileged situation of this extraordinary natural setting into account. It extends across the site like a network or a carpet (particularly in the first phase), provoking the surprising effect of a porous and varied architectonic space, where patios and gardens (inserted in the building mass) blend into one another, blurring the limits of the operation. As a result, when we arrive at the entry, for example  --markedly horizontal in its proportions-- parts of the building already lie behind us.  And when we think we have finally reached the end of the hotel, in the area of the swimming pool and solarium, much of the building still lies before us. The hotel extends across the site in a continuous play of open and closed, light and shadow, the porous and the solid, colonizing the former palm grove with care and attention,  and thus transforming it into the essential protagonist of the architectonic operation.
The network structure, very much of its time  (Y. Friedmann, Candilis, Josic and Woods, the Smithsons or even Le Corbusier in Venice), is given consistency over its large extension by the brilliant treatment of the facades using prefabricated panels of reddish volcanic stone, very large in size, which find their perfect complement in the large openings of the terraces, the built-in window shades, and the glazed access galleries to the rooms."
Source:  José Antonio Sosa Díaz-Saaverdra, Editor, Arquitectura Moderna en Canarias. 1925 - 1965, Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Canarias, Islas Canarias, 2002

And here are José Antonio Corrales' remarks on the project in a lecture he gave in Pamplona in 2000
"We received this commission, like many others, through a colleague, in this case Manuel de la Peña, an architect from Las Palmas, who was in contact with the Count of Vegagrande, an important landowner. The name comes from the site behind the Maspalomas Lighthouse, where there was a palm grove and some dunes, like an oasis. The layout is based on linear pavilions of rooms facing the sea and the beach. The most important suites are on the ground floor. The entry is located on a plaza, with the vestibule, the cafeteria and arrival court, and all the living areas are located in this area, on terraced levels around the palm grove, and with stepped ceilings as well to allow natural light to enter; the dining rooms are located on the second floor. There is a kind of park in the palm grove, with a swimming pool, graded seating, and a clubhouse under the seating with a dance floor....
The volcanic rock of the island always surprised us, with its purples, reds and deep blues. For the facades, we decided to make cement panels with volcanic rock set into them. The material is volcanic but broken into small pieces, and they make the hotel look like it is made of cork. The material is fundamental, because it gives the project personality. We used African wood for the carpentry, mixed with some areas in white. One of the features of the rooms looking out to sea is that the ceiling of the terrace is a little higher than the room, and the roll-up shade is not between the terrace and the room, but in front of the terrace, so that when it is lowered the room extends into the terrace. The shade doesn't cut off the room. The ground floor suites have their own terraces.... 
We put abstract paintings by Manuel Millares in the living areas."
Source:José Antonio Corrales, Obra construida, Lecciones / Documentos de Arquitectura 5, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Universidad de Navarra, T6 Ediciones, Pamplona, 2000, p 31 -33. Web version available here.
Photos and plans:

Obra construida
Blog, COAC (Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Canaria)
Photos by Lluís Casals:  Docomomo web page

Photos by Francisco Rojas Fariña (below):
María Isabel Navarro, Canarias: Arquitecturas desde el siglo XXI. Vol IX, Historia Cultural del Arte en Canarias, 2011. Lent by José Antonio Sosa.

Last two pictures:
Vázquez Molezú Bequest, Historic Archive of the COAM (Official College of Architects of Madrid). Author, unknown; date, circa 1967 - 71.

 Texts translated by DC

From Obra construida

From Obra construida

Photo: Francisco Rojas Fariña, circa 1971 From the blog of COAC.
Photo: Francisco Rojas Fariña

Photo: Francisco Rojas Fariña

Photo: Francisco Rojas Fariña

Source: J. A. Sosa

COAM Archive
COAM Archive

No comments:

Post a Comment