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June 11, 2011
Originally published in Beach Houses We Love

For centuries, Spain’s Canary Islands have been the last outpost of civilization before European mariners sailed headlong into the vast Atlantic. That same sense of horizon-bound, seaside fortitude marks the singular homes that a few hardy residents of the Canary Island of Tenerife have literally built into the coastal rock. Whether humble cottages teetering on craggy promontories or actual volcanic caves out of which sunbaked homes have grown, this brand of beach living is about as far from Costa del Sol condos as the Canaries are from the Spanish mainland. Photographer Gunnar Knechtel takes us inside some of the most unusual homes we’ve ever seen and shows us an inspiring intersection of design and living that blossoms up from the cracks.
 

Hand-built beachfront home in the Canary Islands in Spain
Like many others, the home was built painstakingly by hand by its owners.
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Beachfront home living room
Built into the volcanic rock, this wooden home serves primarily as a retreat to the shore during Tenerife’s hot summer months. It’s on a rocky beach not far from the town of Santa María del Mar on the Añaza coast.
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Dining living room with volcano rock ceiling
The natural shelter afforded by the volcanic cave not only keeps residents cool during the summer, but makes for a striking whitewashed ceiling.
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Dining table window view of the beach
Cave dwelling so near the seemingly endless blue water has a distinctly no-frills vibe, but it’s hard to argue with the view.
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Surfboards by patio at the end of Tenerife
The aesthetic at this end of Tenerife is humble: Note the surfboards-cum-benches on the patio.
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Kitchen with whitewashed ceiling and wood cabinets
Like many others, the home was built painstakingly by hand by its owners.
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Compact living room with volcano rock ceiling
This small living room has all the trappings of a Spanish flat, save for the volcanic rock undulating above. The house is near the town El Chorrillo on Tenerife’s eastern coast.
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Little house by the beach in Las Caletillas
With little beach to speak of, sunbathing is confined to a craggy bit of rock just above the water at this house near the town of Las Caletillas.

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Hand-built beachfront home in the Canary Islands in Spain
Like many others, the home was built painstakingly by hand by its owners.

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