Viera y Clavijo Cultural Park, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is an emblematic landscape and cultural space from the beginning of the 20th century, in which an old neo-Gothic temple stands out, later transformed into the first school for girls in Tenerife. After its rehabilitation, carried out by the architect Fernando MENIS
, it will be a public, green space of 15,000 m², in the urban heart of the capital of Tenerife, and will house the second headquarters of the Rodin Museum in Europe.
The Park is located in the urban heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Built-in 1903 with a design by the architect Mariano Estanga and the engineer José Rodrigo Vallabriga, and named after the botanist José Viera y Clavijo, it was a cultural complex, made up of the Pérez Minik Theater, now in ruins, and the Colegio de la Asunción, a former neo-Gothic church founded by Belgian nuns, later transformed into the first school for girls in Tenerife, which was in operation until 1978.
The only example of a neo-Gothic religious building in the city, the School has been classified as an Asset of Cultural Interest in the Canary Islands (Historic-Artistic Monument) since 1986 and is still standing, although very deteriorated due to inadequate reforms, alternated with years of neglect.
The park is home to extensive gardens that contain some botanical gems such as its immense Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), a Caribbean tree, whose crown extends to a diameter of more than 20 m. In its shadow, the students of the school received classes in the middle of the 20th century, enjoying the mild climate of the island. In the gardens, there is also a bronze sculpture by Joan Miró, the Femme Bouteille or Colosal Insecto, which was donated to the city of Santa Cruz in the mid-1970s as a result of the I International Street Sculpture Exhibition.
Located at the intersection of the main urban circulations of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the park could connect the lower area of the city with one of the access avenues to the city. However, the progressive development of the city, the perimeter fences, the scarce and narrow sidewalks that surround the park, as well as its proximity to the ravine contributed to the fact that little by little, it became isolated from the rest of the city.
Ceiba Garden. Second European headquarters of the Rodin Museum by Fernando Menis. Visualization by Fernando Menis.
Preparing the Viera y Clavijo Cultural Park for intense public use in the near future
After its rehabilitation, the Viera y Clavijo Cultural Park will house the second Rodin Museum in Europe: in addition to the main centre in Paris, there are only two other spaces dedicated exclusively to the French artist: the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the United States and a wing dedicated to the sculptor at the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum, Japan. The Rodin Museum in Tenerife will become the third in the world dedicated exclusively to the French sculptor.
However, the future Rodin Museum Tenerife will above all be a large, open, green public space of 15,000 m² in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, overlooking the sea and the ravine, with a prominent role in re-establishing the connection between the lower part and the upper part of the city.
The remodelling project proposed by Menis, which won the public tender called in 2019 by the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is based on respect for the pre-existence, both the neo-Gothic architecture and the surrounding nature, taking into account, however, the brief who asked for underground parking lots.
The objective of Menis's project is to restore the building and heal the vegetation, prepare them for the intense public use that they will be given as an urban park and home to the Rodin Museum. The intervention is based on the minimum necessary touch-ups complemented with strategic actions, which seek to make the park a green lung, connect it with the city and open its views to the sea, make it accessible and easily passable, thereby helping to solve some of the mobility problems in the capital of Tenerife
Thus, the old school and the chapel will be restored, while the current park will be expanded in the form of a green ring. A small forest of Ceibas will be planted to accompany the existing specimen and urban orchards will be included for pedagogical purposes to recall this tradition that already existed in the Colegio de la Asunción.
The Zero Kilometer principles are applied in this project as an economic and sustainability strategy: the redesign project is conceived in such a way that only local materials, crafts and companies can be used. The Circular Economy is prioritized through the use of recycled aggregate, limestone and picón (local volcanic stone) while favoring passive solutions for lighting, ventilation and irrigation. Durable, low-maintenance materials will also be used.