A native of the Canary Islands, architect Antonio Diaz knew from an early age exactly what he wanted to be. A childhood spent surrounded by the impressive gothic, neoclassical and contemporary architectural gems of his homeland augmented his natural curiosity about architecture. Many years spent working at Blakstad Design Consultants has solidified his love of architecture and of Ibiza.
What made you come to Ibiza?
I was born in Tenerife but went to Madrid to finish my studies. I was working in an architecture studio there when a friend in Ibiza called me up and asked me to come collaborate with him on a new design studio. Then a colleague introduced me to Rolf [Blakstad – founder and director], and the perfect opportunity came up. That was in 2011, and I never left.
How has the architecture of the Canary Islands influenced you?
I was always interested in architecture. My grandparents had a house from the 1800s and I knew at 12 years old I wanted to be an architect. I think it came from being around that traditional architecture. The architecture from Canary Island is a mix of North African and Italian Neo Classic and Spanish Colonial styles. There are a lot of South American influences too. That mix – called neo-Canarian – is very different from Ibiza or the rest of Spain. It’s very eclectic. There are also some incredible modernist and contemporary buildings.
What is a normal day like for you?
Every day is different. I live in Ibiza town, so by the time I drive here my head is already awake and in work mode. There’s always a lot of things to go through with Rolf – lots of questions to be answered and decisions to be made. I check in on all the clients and projects and then make any decisions that are needed. The other side of my job is with the town hall, sorting out all the paperwork and licenses. I spend a lot of time there. My days are a mix of being in the office with my colleagues and at the town hall. I’m in the middle between the clients and the paperwork.
What do you like most about your work?
I like taking something from zero to completion and the satisfaction of seeing the clients when they first walk into their finished house. It’s very gratifying when you see their faces at that moment. It makes the day-to-day difficulties worth it.
What are the challenges of your job?
Well, the town hall, obviously! But seriously, the projects that are the most challenging are the old, traditional farmhouses. We never know what we are going to find and they have a life and a history. It can be beautiful but also very hard. It can take years to restore them properly. We have an obligation to protect their histories, but at the same time, we need to modernise them in a way that still maintains their essence and spirit.
What is architecture for you?
That’s a big question. Primarily, the purpose of architecture is to provide a place to live, to provide shelter. But it is also a place where you can feel pleasure in your space. Architecture is an opportunity to create community and belonging.
If you could go anywhere to study a culture’s architecture where would you go?
I would go to Japan. Something about it calls me. The culture is so different to Europe and architecturally they are so advanced.
Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?
My first project. It was a reform and amplification of an old farmhouse. It was the first time I was confronted with a house with so much history. It was a very challenging project but I was very proud of the result. We found a way to get more light in without destroying its essence. Back in those days, the Ibicencos lived mostly outside, the house was just for sleeping and the windows were very small. These days, it’s the reverse and light is very important to our living space. I think we achieved a good balance.
What do you love most about working for Blakstad Design Consultants?
Having the opportunity to work with a master like Rolf. He creates perfect proportions and beautiful spaces. We get to work with the noblest of materials too.
What do you love about living in Ibiza?
I love the quality of life I can have here. The island has a real character too. It’s passed through all of these phases, so it’s a real mix of tradition, modernity, luxury and freedom. I feel very comfortable here.