La Palma Hot Springs Baths
Canary Islands
(2015)

The Fuente Santa spa is set on land reclaimed from the sea at the foot of a steep 150 metre volcanic cliff, near Echenvite beach. It sits directly on the lava flow from the 1971 eruption of the Teneguía volcano, part of the Cumbre Vieja volcanic ridge that runs north-south across La Palma Island. In 1667, an eruption of the San Antonio volcano buried the original medicinal water spring beneath 40 metres of lava. The source of the hot springs that feed the new spa was not located until recently.
The new spa is a set of two overlapping dream-like landscapes with bathing ponds separated by a black perforated monolithic block with a fractured edge. Its colour, materiality and deformed geometry replicate the geology of the inaccesible lava surface lying below it, almost without contact between the two. The two landscapes are shaped by a set of smooth pools with different sizes, depths and salinities. The water is stained with colours that contrast with the deep black sea of lava and the blue ocean. The upper and lower pools form a spa with natural associations, despite their artificiality- regular but adapted to the lava, in continuity with the surroundings yet totally differentiated from them. Above the spreading roof surface, a myriad of pools in artificial colours hang over the lava landscape, relating to the remote western horizon. The pools are systematically repeated at constant distances and rhythms, generating an abstract foreground landscape that contrasts with the set of interior pools below the roof and their surreal softness.
The presence of Cesar Manrique spreads like a ghostly shadow of memories and dreams, open to the sky in an oniric landscape, a mixture of white floors, pools like transparent water droplets with the size of puddles in which the only real ground is the plane of the water in the swimming pools. Entering this landscape, visitors leave their routine behind and become submerged in a world of strange artificial geological formations, where body and views are treated by the stark contrast between the rough black lava, the different horizontals created by the slab and the water, strangely contained in clusters of bluish ponds.