Ove Arup and Partners International has been appointed to carry out a feasibility study into the creation of a cavern measuring 50m x 50m x 50m inside Mount Tindaya on the Spanish Island of Fuerteventura.

The cavern was designed by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, as a way of exploring space and scale. Two light wells will ascend to the top of the mountain, allowing people to see the sun and stars.

Chillida told the press in 1996: “The idea was to create a sculpture that would protect the sacred mountain. The large space created in the heart of the mountain is invisible from the outside, but those who dare to venture within will see the sun and the moon from a hollow with no horizon.”

To reach the cavern, visitors must pass through an 80m long tunnel with a 15m2 cross-section.

Mount Tindaya is believed to be the remnants of an old volcanic plug of trachyte, which is much tougher than the surrounding Basalts. Dominic Holt, project manager for Ove Arup, told T&TI that part of the US$2M, 12 month study phase was to find the optimum level of the cavern within the mountain. The upper 30m of the mountain is made up of weathered rock which is a highly sought after building material. It is hoped that some of the costs can be offset by the sale of this rock.

Ove Arup will also try to find the extent of weathering and the fracturing pattern through the rock. “We don’t want lumps of it falling out,” said Holt. “And we want the least amount of bolting and additional structural support.”

Arup is collaborating with Scott Wilson Piésold and Madrid architect Lorenzo Fernández Ordóñez.

After the detailed geotechnical investigation and preliminary design is complete next summer, the government will probably issue a design and build contract.