Building runs in the family. Rolph’s father, Peter, was a master architect-builder and carver. In 1902, he left western Norway, arriving during the Gold Rush in Anchorage, Alaska, where he constructed the very first buildings. Later he emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where Rolph was born in 1929. From the age of five his father took him along to building sites, from the age of seven he taught him to make architectural drawings, and by nine had taught him Vignola’s Five Orders of Architecture.
More than half a century ago, in October 1956, Mary and Rolph Blakstad, sailed into the harbor of Ibiza. The rural landscape was psychically pungent; as if retaining or recording all the influences to which it had been subjected, from the sun, wind and rain to the sum of human emotions. It was like landing in another century: the quayside lined with wooden sailing ships, the loosing of anchors, the running clatter as the chains were let out, the excited greetings from the crowd on shore. Rolph described the town of Ibiza as “white, pyramidal, a terraced hill rising from the sea with tier upon tier of crystalline cubical houses. They seemed more vegetable than mineral, the softened contours appearing to grow organically out of the ground.
The island breathed an extremely ancient atmosphere because the material technology had remained the same for millennia. Everything had a patina. Virtually the only profession in the countryside was farming, the fields and orchards like precious gardens. For about three months a year, the torrents — seasonal water courses — would run; the natural springs always had an abundant supply of clear, fresh water. Flour was ground in mills driven by water, wind or mule power. Donkeys and mules were almost the sole source of transport on land.
And so the Blakstads settled on Ibiza, an island inhabited over the centuries by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Moors and Catalans. Rolph began his extensive study of the island and its culture, its building and its architecture – professions still practiced by his two sons, Nial and Rolf.
Rolph Blakstad founded Blakstad Design Consultants in 1967. His studies became the basis of his work of research, design and building for more than 40 years. Today, the time-honoured family tradition continues with sons Rolf and Nial. A living tradition adapts itself to changing circumstances, but is still based on the local building experience of the island during thousands of years.