Ibiza architecture

THE TRANQUILLITY OF TRADITION

Students and lovers of architecture all have a bucket list of places to visit: Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper and home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House; Barcelona where Gothic sensibility butts heads with Gaudi’s singular vision; Tel Aviv for its high concentration of Bauhaus; Brasilia for Niemeyer’s futurist world view and Miami for Art Deco’s American dream to name just a handful. True aficionados would be remiss to omit Ibiza from their list.

While all these places contain brilliant monuments created by the world’s greatest architects, the essence of design has always had its roots in the domestic. The vernacular architecture of Ibiza has long been studied as a prime example of the importance and beauty of the everyday. That beauty exists in abundance in the Mediterranean villages and coastlines, and right here in the essence of Seven Pines Resort Ibiza.

Le Corbusier travelled to the Balearics in the 1930s and was not the only designer to become enamoured with Ibiza’s domestic architecture. Raoul Hausmann, a founder of Dada and artist in exile spent years photographing Ibiza and her inhabitants, capturing moments where architecture intersected with daily life. Architect Erwin Broner established himself in Dalt Vila in the 1930s and likened the traditional architecture to his beloved Bauhaus. Today, his modernist home is now a fine museum. Belgian architect Philippe Rotthier arrived in Ibiza in the early 70s and went on to complete several studies of traditional island design, incorporating those methods into his own work. He produced the classic study on the subject, Ibiza. Le palais paysan, in 1984.

Along with these big name architects taking their inspiration from local design was Canadian Rolph Blakstad. He settled in Ibiza in the late 50s and ten years later established his own architecture and design practice. He’s credited with the most in-depth study of Ibicenco architecture, making connections to the styles and methods of Phoenicia and the ancient Middle East. Blakstad worked tirelessly to preserve the traditions of the island, knowing they contained myriad lessons for future architects. His work is still referenced today and is sustained through his sons who have maintained and built on his legacy. Today, a Blakstad house is not only a signal of prestige but also a vessel for maintaining the history of the island.

Architect Rolp Blakstad is credited with the most in-depth study of Ibicenco architecture and worked tirelessly to preserve the traditions of the island. 

Typical Ibicenco design is evident across the grounds of Seven Pines Resort Ibiza. The hotel was built on the foundations of an existing facility that took its inspiration from local villages. What we see today encompasses many of the design motifs used for millennia. The cubic shapes with rounded edges, whitewashed walls, internal courtyards and wood framed patios are all reference to classic local design that can be seen in the many old farmhouses dotted throughout the island's countryside.

The Ibicenco house was designed primarily around the functions of the farm and family. Working without blueprints or plans, the designs were transmitted orally from generations to generation. The structure always began with the porxo, a rectangular room that initially served as sleeping quarters, workshop and animal barn. From the porxo, bedrooms and a kitchen would be added as the family grew, hence the cubic shape. A traditional farmhouse was never complete; the design always allowing for growth and additions.

"Typical Ibicenco design is evident across the grounds of Seven Pines Resort Ibiza. Cubic shapes with rounded edges and whitewhashed walls are reference to classic local design." 

They say necessity is the mother of invention and in Ibiza’s case so is isolation. There was no access to foreign materials and whatever was used in construction came from the surrounding environment. Ceilings were insulated using layers of ash and dried seaweed, beams were hewn by hand from the once enormous native juniper trees that populated the wooded areas of the island and stone was quarried from the coastline or dug directly from the land around the structure.

Each farmhouse is completely original, like a fingerprint, yet they all possess shared elements. Walls were kept thick to protect from the sun and also to act as a safeguard from the many invading forces that pestered the island. Limewash was cooked in pit ovens and its chalky coating is what gave Ibiza its ‘white isle’ moniker. Hand-cut stones were laid out to create garden terraces; each rock carefully placed to support the ones around it. These dry stone walls were built without any binding and criss-cross the island, some of them are thousands of years old.

"Each farmhouse walls were kept thick to protect from the sun and also to act as a safeguard from the many invading forces that pestered the island."

Roofs are flat and were used to dry fruit and collect rainwater via an ingenious system most likely influenced by the Moors. Imperceptible angles channelled precious water to a series of underground cisterns that fed each other. Some houses contained olive presses and flour mills, many of which are beautifully preserved today. Colossal beams stretched across huge stone discs, around which a small horse or donkey was led. Some farms that once grew wheat still possess the vestiges of vast circular stages where the wheat berries were dried, husked by the force of the wind then ground into flour to be made into loaves baked in dome-shaped ovens attached to the side of the house.

"Purity, simplicity and tranquility permeate these ancient designs."

Ibicenco culture is proudly austere, placing function above all other attributes. Sparsely furnished with few decorative elements the architecture very much reflected the lifestyle. Within this scarce ambience lies a special beauty. Traditional homes possess a self-assured peace, transmuting lessons in humility and usefulness. While the white isle is known as a glossy holiday destination – famous for its beautiful coast, stunning views and indulgent pastimes – the core of its attraction is most definitely contained within the message of its architecture.

Purity, simplicity and tranquillity permeate these ancient designs. At Seven Pines Resort Ibiza, these elements are the ethos of our hotel’s existence. They can be seen in the traces of tradition within the architecture of the hotel and felt within the warmth of the ambience bathed in the golden Ibiza sun.

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