Rolph Blakstad, founder of Blakstad Design Consultants, came to Ibiza in 1956 and has lived here ever since. In 1970 Rolph turned his hand, expert-eye and intuition back to his first love – architecture and design.
His Norwegian heritage is that of a master builder, as son has stud-ied with father down the lineage (his son Rolph Junior is now Director of the family business) learning, as Rolph explains, ‘skills that can’t be taught or learnt in schools, such as sensing the cultural quality of architecture and art and how to do it.’ Blakstad designed buildings certainly stand testament to that, upon entering the Blakstad office and residence there is a serene sense of calm, of symmetrical beauty and simplicity.
Rolph Blakstad was asked, in 1968, by the then retired US diplomat John Lund to build an extension to his farmhouse. By this time Rolph had already been studying and researching the planning and building techniques of Ibicenco buildings, his private studies
The Blakstad name is synonymous with beautiful design and quality in Ibiza.
complimented by years of actually living in old Ibicenco farmhouses. The Blakstad name is synonymous with beautiful design and quality in Ibiza and Blakstad’s have since designed many buildings of great beauty around Ibiza, with trademark punic-inspired features. Intrinsic to the design is the feel of any one of the Blakstad designed places, they feel different and they feel special. It is as if the buildings themselves give off an air of ease. This is, one senses, attributable to the intuition and the assiduousness with which the Blakstads design and build.
The Blakstad style is a continuation of the tradition of Ibicenco building, they ‘try to retain the value in the values of cultural tradition which can still be applied in modern life.’ Rolph’s architectural interest was different to that of the German architect, and his friend, Erwin Broner (who, from 1936, also lived in Ibiza). Broner was at the Bauhaus prior to the Second World War and approached Ibicenco architecture from Bauhaus design concepts and modern materials. Rolph’s approach could not have been more different.
When the granddaughter of Gropius (the Bauhaus architect) once asked him ‘tell me Mr. Blakstad what kind of architecture do you do?’ he responded ‘I’m searching for the baby that your grandfather threw out with the bathwater’. Rolph Blakstad was, and is, interesed in learning about Ibicenco architecture from its own traditions and functions. As lifestyle and technology has changed so, of course, he has adapted to suit modern life-styles and to use modern technology, however he remains true to the historic conditions he has been studying archeologically.
When asked ‘what did the Ibicenco’s get right about architecture?’ Rolph’s response is immediate, definite and resolute, he states ‘everything’. He explains that for their times and conditions, in terms of architecture, they got everything right. The fincas work because they draw on 3000 years of tradition, going back to the most ancient civilisations of the East:
The Phonecian system of building measurement were recorded in the Bible and are the same as the measurements of the Ibicenco farmhouse.
The measuring rod of the angel in the book of Izikeal for the building of the New Jerusalem was six cubits, the exact measurement of the width of traditional Ibicenco bedrooms.
Solomon’s palace in Megiddo (Armargeddon) has the same floor plan as an Ibicencan house.
As Rolph summarises ‘the harmonic geometric beauty is closely related to musical harmony and is the essence of architecture… this has to be combined with the functional purpose of the building itself and the two must be knitted together’.
‘The harmonic geometric beauty is closely related to musical harmony and is the essence of architecture…‘
Text: Ruth Osborn
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