Over recent decades, the island of Ibiza’s signature architectural style has developed into sleek, white and minimalist. However Thilo Kleinstoll, a qualified architect and agent for Ibiza Sotheby’s International Realty, suggests the tide is turning towards a more individualist approach that directly suits the owner and the landscape.
Thilo, who studied architecture in Germany and practiced both there and in Switzerland, has for the past four years – prior to joining the Sotheby’s team – worked in Ibiza. Familiar with the island since childhood, Thilo’s been involved in some major refurbishments as well as creating some conceptual projects and has seen the paradigm shift.
Commenting on Ibiza’s residential architecture, Thilo says: “Today, homes do not sell purely on the basis of being modern and minimalist. Even if it’s well-constructed and well-designed, if the building does not relate to the Ibizan landscape or to the owner’s needs, it won’t perform well on the property market.
“Of course, the preference is still for contemporary, but the architecture must be well considered to reflect the climate, scenery, views and famous light we have in Ibiza – whilst also recognising factors unique to the island, such as summer water shortages and harnessing solar power.”
The look that sells in Ibiza today, reports Thilo, is a simple home, integrated into the landscape and with a rational floorplan. Wide windows make the most of the views, views that can often be seen as soon as you enter the front door capturing a glimpse of the swimming pool and landscape beyond.
The property needs to feel laidback, as if it’s not trying too hard to be an architectural masterpiece – but instead a home that works. And, in keeping with the Ibiza vibe, many also have a nod to Zen principles and Japanese traditions.
“At Sotheby’s we also get many requests for traditional fincas that have been modernised into an Ibizan minimalist style whilst retaining the original structure,” says Thilo.
“Buyers are keen to use local craftsmen and incorporate handmade elements to give their home that individualist edge – no one wants the same property as his neighbour these days, it must be unique. Although something that will never go out of fashion in Ibiza is the colour – white – this is the ‘White Island’ after all.”
One of Ibiza’s most successful architect studios, Blakstad Design Consultants, headed by Rolf and Nial Blakstad, is celebrated for creating finca-style homes, which incorporate modern techniques to suit contemporary lifestyles.
Founded in 1967 by the late Canadian-born Rolph Blakstad, Rolf and Nial’s father, the Blakstad portfolio is full of properties of striking beauty and with unique energy. Many of the properties are sold via Sotherby’s.
Thilo continues: “The main problem Ibiza has to contend with is a lack of available plots on which to build a dream individualist home. Everyone seeks a special view, the best sea or countryside vista they can find, but a plot with these views and permission to build is like gold dust.
“Getting a construction licence for land outside urbanised areas is hard and even if it’s possible can take a year or more from date of application. But it can be worth the wait as design and build is often substantially cheaper than buying an existing home and you get exactly what you want.”