Casa Itaca sits on terraced farmland surrounded by pristine pine forest in the heartlands of Santa Eulalia. Named for Odysseus’ mythical home in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, this divine home lives up to its namesake’s reputation as a sanctuary. Thankfully, unlike Odysseus, it did not take the owners ten years and several battles to arrive here. Every project presents a series of foreseen and unknowable challenges but despite these ordinary obstacles, Casa Itaca was one of those projects that flowed and floated towards its completion with relative ease. The result has left us rather breathless – this is not a trophy home, but a beautiful example of how collaboration can produce harmony.
The owners of Casa Itaca had made the decision to move to Ibiza permanently with a vision for a home that would become a family meeting point for a long time to come, even including the advent of prospective grandchildren. “The owners were involved right from the start at all levels,” says Blakstad Design Consultant’s architect Javier Blesa. “For us, that’s a huge advantage because the final result is very precise.” Surrounded by disused and neglected farmland, the premise of the design was rooted in returning the land to its natural state.
Flowing over two levels, the ground floor is demarcated into a day zone and a night zone. The entrance serves as a boundary axis between the two, with the day area consisting of the kitchen, dining room, lounge and TV room – all of which face the garden. The night area contains bedrooms, including the master suite. A short staircase leads to the upper floor, where there are two more rooms with their respective terraces. The built area is about 470 square metres with a 70 square metre basement containing utilities and equipment. Rectangular stepping stones embedded in a lush lawn lead past a water feature and a covered dining porch to the 125 square metre swimming pool.
Terraced plots shored up with ancient dry stone walls meant the design had to adapt to the topography. The owners knew from the get-go they wanted to revitalise the cultivation of fruit trees. “The recovery of the land was a very interesting aspect of this project,” says Blesa. “The result is, in a way, a return to the essence of an Ibiza farmhouse. Wrapping the house in farmland was the backbone of the project that informed many of our other choices.” Instead of leaving the land recovery and planting until after construction, the team carried out the landscaping and building work in tandem. “It means the house has lived within the fields from day one – the idea of farming has permeated the entire process.”
This clarity of vision extended to the interiors too. “The clients had a very clear idea of what they wanted out of a home,” says interior designer Sonia Montoya. “The country style of the interior of the house is due to the personal history of the owners. They wanted the furniture that had been in the family for generations to give life to a 21st century home.” Sticking with the farmhouse aesthetic, the colour palette throughout consist of earthy tones with touches of verdigris. The client had old wooden doors and gates they had accumulated during previous projects and some they had acquired with Casa Itaca in mind. Bestowing a new life to the wood, the Blakstad team restored and treated the pieces and transformed them into headboards and wall panels.
Unusually for Ibiza, the floor tiles are a dark charcoal in place of the typical microcement or terracotta clay tiles. Sourced from the south of France, each tile is handcrafted from tufa – a type of porous limestone – and laid out in the sun to bake. “It was the client who introduced us to this material, and we are very happy with the result,” says Montoya. Because of the length of time required to produce the tiles, manufacturing started around the same time as construction. “No tile is the same,” says Blesa. “They’re handmade, so some are thicker, some less square making the process of laying them very exact. We often adjusted the size of the rooms to fit the number of tiles to avoid losses and half pieces.” The dark colour of the floor is a parenthesis around the country chic style bringing the rest of the whitewashed, earthy and natural interiors into perspective.
From the very start, the client’s clear vision and ability to communicate was a blessing. “It’s a joint effort from a great team of engineers, decorators, landscapers and, above all, the client,” explains Blesa. “The client was able to convey very well what they were looking for and we could shape those concepts into the design. There have been very few changes because the foundational idea was solid.” Along with the aesthetic was a desire for functionality including tight energy efficiency. Good planning has resulted in a high standard with zero thermal bridges, thermal insulation, greywater recycling and solar energy.
Casa Itaca has become a favoured project for Blesa and Montoya who both feel the team realised the client’s vision. “It is a humble house,” says Montoya. “I keep returning to the original idea which was a house in the middle of productive farmland. It doesn’t stand out. The house and the landscape with the fruit trees and vegetable gardens are one entity.” This is an ethos fixed into the Blakstad philosophy, where the landscape is the source of inspiration and direction. There is no better example of this than Casa Itaca.