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A glimpse into the homes of yesteryear in Gran Canaria

Updated: May 18, 2022


Whilst strolling round my local neighbourhood in Las Palmas my eye was caught by these traces of dismantled homes. The two streets where the demolition was underway are just a block or two from the sea-front, with its fringe of bars, restaurants and surf-school, all aimed primarily at tourists. None the less, most of the area remains residential, comprising three-storey apartment blocks, whilst below at street level local shopkeepers continue to make a living, notably fruit and vegetable sellers, bakers and café/bars.

Although I don’t know anything of the architecture of the buildings that are being demolished, I would surmise that they may have had an atrium, as did the place where I was staying on a nearby street. Such central spaces, so long deemed invaluable for the light and ventilation they provided, have rather fallen out of favour since air-conditioning has become the norm in modern buildings. Atria are now considered to be wasteful of space, and it may be that was one of the factors in the decision to demolish, rather than say renovate, these buildings.


The surviving fragments of wall coverings seen here give us some idea of the configuration and use of the building, in addition to the decorating tastes of the homemakers. The materials with geometric designs that we see in both sites are ceramic tiles, and were used in kitchens and bathrooms, indeed in one site a tap still projects from the wall. I suggest that the pink wallpaper, which must have been lush and rich when new, was hung in a living room, being far too splendid to be hidden away in the private space of a bedroom. I hesitate to date any of these materials, but might the tiles and the grey wallpaper be 1970, whilst the pink paper could be anytime from 1960s-1990s? Perhaps readers will clarify this point and might also have comments to make on what strikes me as a paucity of plastering and ‘finish’ to the walls.


The images here give a flavour of the ‘barrio’, though I doubt that the dwellings under demolition were as grand as those on Calle Faro, nor yet as elegant as the beautifully restored 1920s and 1930s establishments. Inevitably these insights into private homes raise more questions than can currently be answered, yet they do provide us with a valuable glimpse of homemaking in urban Gran Canaria in the closing decades of the twentieth century.

Dianne Lawrence

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