The ABC islands are the three westernmost islands of the Lesser Antilles. The C stands for Curaçao – a tropical gem where this heavenly Blakstad project is located (A is for Aruba and B is for Bonaire). It’s the second Blakstad home for this client, who was so enamoured with the villa the team designed for him in La Reserva, Sotogrande, Spain, that he commissioned a holiday house as well. Set on a small private harbour under the shining Caribbean sun, this villa has the quintessential Blakstad touch but with a tropical twist.
Like much of the Caribbean, Curaçao’s history is steeped in colonialism and a mishmash of cultures. Politically the island belongs to the Netherlands but culturally it runs to the beat of its own drum. This is most notable in the architecture which ranges in style from 17th-century Dutch townhouses (painted in joyful, sun-kissed colours) and Spanish colonial to examples of mid-century modern and contemporary minimalist. This new addition to the design history of the island shows the evolution and flexibility of the Blakstad signature style.
After a sadly-too-brief site visit, the Blakstad team developed the design in consultation with a Curaçao based architect. “The regulations were quite strict,” says studio director Rolf Blakstad. “We worked very closely with the local architect to make sure we met all of the requirements.” Peaked roofs were one such requisite which were finished with traditional clay Spanish barrel tiles to fit with neighbouring properties. The earthy paleness of the tiles glimmers in the sun, giving a touch of Hacienda vibes, their colour a lovely juxtaposition to the deep greens of the vegetation and blues of the sea.
In a sense, the house has two façades. The oversized front door is reached via a pretty patio featuring a water feature and the so-called back faces the pool, beyond which sweeping sea views stretch as far as the eye can see. With much of the owner’s time spent on the water, it made sense to include a private dock for his boat. In this way it’s impossible to tell which side of the house is the entrance – it would most likely depend on where lunch was booked for that day, or what type of transport you arrive by.
As usual, climate is one of the cornerstones of Blakstad’s design and the dry heat of Curaçao allowed the team to play with layouts and materials in a way that is impossible in Ibiza. “It’s located right on the water,” says Blakstad. “And because it’s tropical and used as a holiday house, the inside and outside are more open to each other than we would usually make them.” While glass panels are used to enclose certain zones, they are hardly needed as the temperature and cooling sea breeze make it possible to keep the house open all year round.
Another upshot of a dry climate was the chance to use wood decking around the pool. Crowned by a wide covered porch stemming from the living space, the pool spills out towards the dock where a speed boat awaits for trips across the water. Topped and tailed with pergola-covered chillouts – one for lounging, the other for dining – the whole zone enjoys never-ending views and the coolness brought on by tropical garden beds.
The exterior and interior wall finishes are a delightful light coral colour, a pigment created by the very sand on which the island sits. “We always use as many local materials as possible,” says Blakstad. “It makes sense economically of course, but it’s more about keeping designs within an authentic cultural paradigm.” Even so, the owner fell in love with Blakstad’s distinctive bespoke cabinetry with hand-forged bolts inspired by typical Ibicencan design, which can be seen throughout the interior rooms.
As our studio reaches more and more exotic and faraway places, it’s heartening to see how the roots of Ibizan design – essential to the Blakstad ethos – are so prevalent and desired by clients far and wide. This phenomenon proves yet again that the original architects of Ibiza knew inherently the value of good, simple, and well-made architecture.