Ibiza-based architects Bernard and Thor aim to create sustainable dream homes.
Founders of sustainable architecture practice Ibiza Living, Bernhard Rustige and Thor Fogelberg, have dedicated their lives to designing spaces and products that are environmentally-friendly. Drawing on a combination of principles influenced by nature and modern architecture, their ethos is simple; sustainable homes that are a catalyst for a healthy lifestyle. The Ibiza Living studio is located in Santa Eulalia, on the east coast of the island, and has been shaping Ibiza’s architectural landscape for over 30 years. “We’re strongly influenced by local craft and the particular style of traditional fincas. Our practice follows a more eclectic and spontaneous interpretation of the client’s desire, and through that we strive to create unique and timeless buildings,” Bernard says.
For Bernhard and Thor, sustainability is at the heart of every project. They aim to balance and connect with their natural surroundings; forms & proportions, orientation & energy, environment & material. For Ibiza Living, innovation is key to pushing design in a more environmentally conscious direction. “Our team is continually researching new ways to create a circular economy. To do this we need to reduce consumption of natural resources, recycle and promote local sources of labour, products and materials.”
Bernhard moved to the island from Germany and Thor is from Ibiza but studied in the UK. Both are inspired by the simple elegance of Ibicencan architecture’s organic style and natural structures. “Life on this island has taught us, through its traditional architectural style, to design houses with soul, as well as giving us a mix of cultures and interesting people from all over the world: Ibiza is truly our source of inspiration.” The studio describes the vernacular as representative of a timeless, Mediterranean style. Buildings are humble, functional and predominantly cube-shaped. The main attributes of the traditional Ibicencan fincas are whitewashed walls, flat roofs, interior arches and small windows on the façades.
Over the decades, Ibiza Living has undertaken a huge number of projects, ranging from single houses to whole developments, each illustrating their core values. Can Pep, for example, a sustainable estate with a natural self-cleaning swimming pool, takes its cue from traditional styles and sinuous patterns inspired by nature. Wooden ceilings with Sabina beams keep the house feeling cosy, while the property is orientated towards the south to maximise natural light.
La Atalaya, a residential complex in Santa Eulalia, is made up of 17 detached homes, built and designed in a way that is faithful to Ibicencan houses, yet offers all the comforts of modern living. The renovated finca Can Joan des Murtar keeps its spirit of rural architecture with an aged stone floor, cut from a limestone known as Piedra Viva, which is quarried on the island of Ibiza. Other adaptations also used sustainable materials, such as cabinets made from recycled pine, while rainwater is collected for use in the garden. “This family home has been transformed from a simpledwelling into a luxury living space,” say Thor and Bernhard. “Using local materials, we have created the feel of a modern architectural design and sustainable dream home.”
We would like to see Ibiza become a benchmark for sustainability and responsible development, which is the path we believe the island has taken.
- Thor and Bernhard, Founders
For Thor, a favourite project was Can Oli, a unique villa on the edge of a cliff in the south of Ibiza. “The project is an eclectic blend of traditional local architecture with a playful touch of Gaudi and Mexican inspiration”. For this house, the architects designed and created handmade mosaic bathrooms, polished cement baths and bespoke driftwood beds and furniture.
“Our houses are easily recognisable because we like to integrate playful elements within the Ibizan aesthetic: a Moroccan-style mosaic, a giant egg as a toilet, pyramids on the roofs, igloos as a guest house, or spiral-shaped pools, among many other examples. We love to surprise.”
Ibiza Living has a showroom-cum-shop where they share materials they use, brands they support, and part of the space is dedicated to an organic coffee kiosk called the Meke Café. As well as coffee, you’ll find a local clothing brand, handmade ceramics by a friend of Thor’s and the Ibiza Living’s in-house blue glass bottles, which are both reusable and help to oxygenate the water inside.
Looking to the future, the pair would like to see the island play a bigger role in championing eco-living. “We would like to see Ibiza become a benchmark for sustainability and responsible development, which is the path we believe the island has taken,” say Thor and Bernhard. “There is a high level of consciousness, organic farming, centres for healing and spiritual work – all in all, a place in which to live and grow in a conscious way and in communion with nature.”