imby3 at Club La Santa / by imby3

There is no doubt the Danes know how to do a sports complex - and with their rich Danish history of considered design you would be forgiven for thinking this Danish owned resort was another example of their natural boldness and confidence in architecture. However, this resort was not designed by a Dane - this place is the handiwork of a Spaniard, Mr Juan Manuel Ruiz of Madrid.

La Santa is situated on the north west shore of Lanzarote, about as far away as possible from the tourist hot spots of Puerto Del Carmen and Costa Teguise, far away in fact from almost everything. There is a remoteness to La Santa - which, with the barren, rocky landscape can have an almost lunar feel to it. For that reason it is fitting that it has an architectural aesthetic in contrast to any of the other buildings on the island - and its surrounding environment, as if an alien hacienda has landed from outer space. However, where many others would have produced garish or ill conceived concepts in trying to design something original and unique to the island, Ruiz managed to create a piece of real holiday magic.

On approach the off-white turrets of the complex sparkle on the horizon like a mirage in the distance, the clean, orthoganal form of the building sitting comfortably in its rugged, rocky surroundings. Getting closer the scale of the complex becomes apparent - large but not dominating, sizeable yet modest.

Once in the complex the architecture and layout begin to resemble a small town; the Square (like a town centre) placed, naturally in the middle with the shops, restaurants and amphitheatre providing the focal point. The walls are high and the apartments tightly stacked on top of one another, and as you pass through there are glimpses of blue, teasing through gaps in the buildings.

The energy is different in the Square, shaded from the sun and away from the activities it can provide a break from the sports and heat - a calm and refreshing space. As you move away from the centre in any direction there are fewer apartments, allowing more openings in the walls and the natural light from the blue sky above to shine through. This is when the the full effect of the contrasting sky and buildings is revealed - bright blue and even brighter white.

Ruiz also uses the buildings to frame the views out from the complex, concentrating your gaze onto specific parts of the larger picture - my favourite being the view whilst walking from the square to our apartment, where the corridor opens at the end to allow a tall, portrait slither of a vista of the volcanic cliff-face further to the north, meeting the rugged coastline.

I have been visiting Club La Santa regularly for as long as I can remember - so much so that this alien architecture feels just as much like home to me as West London suburbia does.

And on arriving at Stansted Airport on a cold November evening after a week-long stay I very much wish this was my home.

Next year...

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