Sotogrande is a large, privately owned residential community located just a stone’s throw from the ancient city of Gadir, otherwise known as Cádiz, one of Phoenicia’s earliest settlements. It is serendipitous then, that Blakstad should bring their architectural style to the area, connecting the ancient traditions of Phoenician Ibiza to the modern day on the Spanish mainland. This beautiful villa is one of a handful of homes the studio has designed in Sotogrande and is emblematic of the melding of eras and ideas for which Blakstad has become known.
A family of forward-thinking entrepreneurs bought five adjoining farms in the area in the early 1960s, intending to create a luxury complex based on the American city of Palm Springs. Decades later the original plot has extended to 2,500 hectares with just as many residents and includes a marina with over 1350 moorings, several first-class golf courses, Europe’s best polo and equestrian clubs, tennis clubs, beach clubs, an international school and a plethora of restaurants, hotels and 24-hour professional security. Plus, some stunning architecture.
Sotogrande is an architectural showcase with styles ranging from mid-century modern and Spanish colonial to high-tech minimalist, classic Mudejar, and the occasional Swiss chalet. Three buildings have been bestowed protection as items of cultural interest: the Biddle house by Francisco Caravajal, the Zóbel house (the founders of the estate) by José Antonio Coderch and the Real Club de Golf by Luis Gutiérrez Soto. This brand new Blakstad villa located in the exclusive La Reserva neighbourhood will be joining a stable of distinguished high-design homes.
This was the first house commissioned by a new client who was so happy with the result he contracted Blakstad to also design his holiday home in Curaçao. The six-bedroom villa flows over a steeply sloped, south-facing plot overlooking a densely forested ravine. Strong east and west winds coming in across the straits of Gibraltar and a varied climate throughout the year necessitated careful consideration to ensure comfort in all weather patterns. Hot summers are tempered with shaded patios and good airflow while the chillier months are warmed via oversized picture windows and a sleek drop-down fireplace in the living room.
The steep slope required a stepped design with the house spilling over three levels. The upper levels contain the bedrooms and living areas while the lower one houses a gym and further living rooms with access to the swimming pool and its chillout zones, barbecue area and outdoor dining spots. For the client and his family, life is centred around the kitchen and the layout positions this area as a zone for sharing and connection.
A long wood dining table extends from the kitchen and beyond is the living room. An elegant, suspended fireplace warms the room in the cooler months while floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open to a pergola-covered outdoor lounge. From here a set of stairs descends to the pool, one end of which boasts an outdoor dining space with access to the barbecue and a lawn perfect for afternoon games. At the opposite end is another covered chillout complete with plush day beds. One of the most impressive spaces in the villa is the lower-level living room which faces the pool. Here, the sofas and armchairs are lit by an immense picture window. It’s like a frame for the view, an artwork itself.
Along with many signature Blakstad motifs – exposed wood beams, bougainvillaea and jasmine-covered pergolas, and whitewashed walls – is the inclusion of a beautiful fresco in the private patio off the primary suite’s bathroom. It depicts a version of the tree of life, a design used for millennia in traditional Ibizan architecture as well as many other cultures. It symbolises the connection between heaven and earth and no doubt reflects how the owner of this stunning villa feels about his new home.