When property developer Anton Bilton started to realise his lifelong dream of building a community of high-end homes on his beloved island of Ibiza, he knew from the start he would work closely with Blakstad Design Consultants. The project, Sabina Estates, is located on the west coast and currently comprises of 13 out of 50 planned luxury homes and a ‘Clubhouse’. The first 13 homes were designed by renowned local architects while the remaining properties are slated to be completed by some of the world’s best including John Pawson (CBE), Sir David Chipperfield, Marcio Kogan, Ami Szmelcman and Rick Joy.
Rolf Blakstad has designed two of the 13 completed homes and is slated for a further four when the project moves into phase two of construction. In addition to these private homes, Blakstad created the Clubhouse – the nucleus of the Sabina community. Bilton is the kind of developer who chooses his collaborators carefully so that he can feel confident in giving them the freedom they deserve as artistic creators. His brief for the 1,485 square metre Clubhouse came in the form of a fairy-tale. “The design is Phoenician in essence,” explains Bilton. “The idea is that we came across an ancient palace where a Phoenician princess lived and every night as the sun sets, she would mourn her lost prince. The idea is a faded grandeur.” That Phoenician design principles are embedded in the history of the Blakstad journey was not lost on Bilton, so engaging the team was a given. “You don’t see this style anywhere else in the world,” he says.
Tall wooden doors open to a stone staircase descending past a water feature and leading to the entrance of the Clubhouse. The interiors were created by Barcelona based Lázaro Rosa-Violán, whose colour scheme of wood finishes, pale greys and whites are beautifully juxtaposed with velvety turquoise and blues. The pale reception vestibule flows into the main area, where a circular bar sits under a classic Blakstad lightwell. To the right, a courtyard is lushly green and home to a centenarian olive tree. Alongside are a hub of discreet office spaces and meeting rooms, while across the square of lawn is a receded porch. To the left of the bar is a cluster of lounges and a wall of bookshelves either side of a fireplace. Behind the bar, the walls seem to disappear before your eyes. A huge rectangular swimming pool is flanked by patios scattered with tables and lounge chairs, and lined with white square pillars supporting wood pergolas. At the end of the pool sits an enormous Buddha, made up of hundreds of smaller Buddhas sitting in front of a startlingly large quartz crystal, behind which the dense green of pine forest rises into the sky.
“The Clubhouse is geared towards summer and winter usage,” says Blakstad. “I wanted winters there to be a place to go and feel warm, and connect with other people. And in summer, it should be a place to relax and cool down, enjoy the sunshine, have lunch or dinner, and meet friends. But most of all, the Clubhouse is geared towards children.” Bilton is no stranger to kids, with five of his own. His goal was to make a place where parents could relax, knowing their kids were safe to roam. The idea was to recreate the kind of childhood that’s been lost to technology – where kids can go off with their buddies all day long and come back when hungry or tired. The Sabina amphitheatre is the locale for outdoor cinema nights, hip-hop workshops, birthday parties and performances of all kinds. There’s a soft play area for the smaller children, overflowing with toys and books and spots for little naps. There’s fun for grown-ups too with a private nightclub, temperature-controlled wine cellar, smoking room, library, gym and spa.
There was always going to be a spiritual aspect to the Sabina Estates development. Bilton is a long-time seeker of universal connection and knew he wanted to create a place where people could gather for important events or personal reflection. Blakstad designed the small Sabina chapel with the Pantheon in mind. “That was the inspiration,” he says. “It has two very distinct areas: the first, an open space for celebrations and gatherings. The second is sunken. The idea is that as you descend you are going further into yourself until you enter the circular sanctum where it’s quiet and cool; where you can contemplate in silence.”
The Sabina Clubhouse could be viewed as a culmination of all the design motifs that exist in the Blakstad arsenal. It is distinctly Ibicencan and unmistakeably Blakstad, with its streaming sunshine, open spaces, pockets of privacy and understated sumptuousness. Through these carefully considered collaborations, Bilton’s goal of creating a space that centred around community and connection has been overwhelmingly achieved.