Still waters run deep in Isabel González’s steady eyes. When the 2008 global financial crisis forced a redirection in the Madridleña’s plans would also reveal a hidden opportunity. Escaping the stresses of the crisis, she arrived in Ibiza in 2010 for a holiday with friends. The island took her wholly within its embrace, providing safe shelter in the storm (so to speak) and fertile ground to plant roots.
What was happening in your life when you first came to Ibiza?
I was working in an architecture studio in Madrid as a technical architect. But as the financial crisis worsened, it was really difficult to continue and I was unsure of what to do. I came here with some friends for a holiday and to see if we could find some work. I speak English, so found work easily. At the end of the summer, I took one month off for myself and fell in love with Ibiza during the low season. I thought to myself: if I find more work, I’ll stay. Four days later, I had a job. One day I do plan to finish my architectural studies.
What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?
It’s a beautiful craft that I’ve loved since I was small. When I was in preschool if I had free time to draw I always drew houses with pools. I wasn’t good at maths so no one thought I could study architecture. But that’s what I wanted even though it was hard. If you really want to learn something, you can. I chose architecture because it’s a form of seeing things in a different way. Architecture gave me the eyes to see differently.
How does your role as draughtswoman fit into the design process?
Rolf works out the design and gets it more or less clear with the client. Then we go to the next phase, when we do a photographic study of the land and a technical appraisal. That information comes to me. There are a lot of factors to consider such as the type of ground, the parameters of the footprint and orientation. There are always adjustments. Perhaps the client wants a house on one level but the land is terraced. Maybe they want an eight-metre high ceiling but it doesn’t fit. My job is to find a solution that accommodates the client’s desires, Rolf’s design and what the land will allow. It’s a puzzle that I need to finish to see if it can work out.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The land here is alive. There are so many variations in the texture of the landscapes. It’s not at all like urban spaces, where everything is basically flat and geometrical. It can make it challenging to find solutions to some of the design conundrums. The land here makes you work really hard!
What do you love most about your job?
The thing I love the most is the style of architecture we do. It’s very special and completely different from anything else anyone is doing. To work here is to be involved in that. I love the ambience of the office too and the rest of the team are so supportive. We work so well together.
What does architecture mean for you?
For me, architecture is the footprint that humanity leaves. It’s the only thing that gets conserved from cultures, so it’s one of the ways we learn about our history. It helps us to understand the people who came before us. We try to make it the best we can because we know it will be here long after we are gone.
What do you love about Ibiza?
Above all, I love the sea and the smell of the earth. If there is sun, then I’m in the water. I carry my fins and mask in the car with me so I can go snorkelling whenever I want. Coming from Madrid, it’s so beautiful to live near the sea.