John Bezold

‘Herzog & De Meuron in Tenerife’, Frame Magazine, No. 67


Surreal is a term that conjures up images of Salvador Dalí and other likeminded artists–including Óscar Domínguez. While less prominent than his fellow Spanish painter, his contributions to the art world, as well as his hometown island of Tenerife, are nothing short of spectacular. And it’s for this reason that his name was recently bestowed upon one of the city’s latest additions to the cultural landscape–the Tenerife Arts Space (TEA). In development since 1999, the center incorporates contemporary art galleries, a photography center, a public library–and, of course, the staple café and restaurant that patrons of the arts have come to expect from art centers. ‘It’s not only a place of encounter for people, but also a place of intersection for landscape, merging contemporary and the old’, says Jacques Herzog, referencing the reconnection of the historic center to the surrounding neighborhoods that the building creates. Making this connection possible is a pedestrian path, cascading down the site and through the building: plashing down near the crystal-clear blue waters of the Atlantic below. In the center, the path widens, creating an entry point and an enclosed outdoor terrace. Expansive panes of glass allow visitors to peep from the terrace into the main library–sunken just below the entry plaza. Studding the exterior walls are small bubble-like openings which create a seemingly random pattern of play, which itself contrasts and contradicts the teardrop-shaped lighting in the main library. Making the juxtaposition and grandeur the building and its interiors bring to the island describable in a single word–surreal.