Rolf Blakstad of renowned architecture studio Blakstad Design Consultants explores the history and heritage of the island through Can Arcadia, a modern villa that pays homage to Ibiza’s past.
“Our design practice is totally grounded in history,” says Rolf Blakstad, speaking of the eponymous studio he heads. For an island so small, there’s a rich assemblage of historic architecture throughout Ibiza; an array of infrastructure was crafted by Phoenician, Roman, Minoan and Mycenaean settlers to name but a few. Blakstad Design Consultants is a firm celebrated for their innovative pairing of the past with the present in both restoration projects and new-builds.
Their latest home, Can Arcadia, is instantly recognisable as Blakstad-designed: the whitewashed cubic exterior houses an abundance of natural materials, with inviting spaces that give way to frontline views. “We have a design philosophy for all our projects,” says Rolf. “A modern interpretation of an archaic Mediterranean house.”
“We put our trust into solutions that have been used for thousands of years.”
- Rolf Blakstad
It’s an architectural discipline developed over 50 years. Founder Rolph Blakstad, Rolf’s father, first started studying historic Ibicencan fincas. “My father had such close proximity to the important details of these ancient buildings,” says Rolf. “Now it’s hard to truly comprehend traditional design in Ibiza, there are so few farmhouses left.” Rolph’s original research is fundamental to Blakstad’s practice, with the team honouring older architectural principles in the creation of contemporary homes.
Naturally then, Can Arcadia is entirely faithful to Ibiza’s architectural history and suited to the hot Balearic climate. The lunar-white building follows the same functionality as its rustic forebears, to repel summer heat and keep things cosy in the wintertime. “But those charming agricultural buildings were not made for the kind of lifestyle we want today,” notes Rolf. “Thank goodness for paned glass! We have the luxury of opening up the inside of the house with glazing.” Throughout the property, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows that slide to merge interior and exterior spaces. “Modern technology can make walls disappear.”
Wherever you’re situated in the house, the landscape beckons. “While the land is relatively flat, there’s a little slope down the garden,” says Rolf. “Elevated at a slightly higher pitch, the living area enjoys this rolling vista towards the sea.” The azure waters in question belong to Cala Llenya beach, a favoured spot for snorkelling and windsurfing backdropped by a wide curve of white sand. The pristine bedrooms also enjoy these calming, open horizons, with terraces from the first-floor suites.
This is Blakstad’s tried and tested architectural method. “We don’t try to create something different each time,” affirms Rolf. “We put our trust into solutions that have been used for thousands of years, adapting only to different locations, clients and their lifestyles.” Rolf notes a particular type of adaptation that took place in the years following Covid. “The pandemic pushed a trend away from the standard minimalist styles in Ibiza. People were living far more in their homes. As usual in times of crisis, you look to cosier environments.”
Such warmth is introduced into Can Arcadia with chestnut carpentry and ceiling beams, a natural palette that feels grounded in the home’s sylvan surroundings. Rolf gives particular focus to the aptly-named ‘cosy corner’, where floor-to-ceiling glazing looks onto a whitewashed exterior wall. “This works to indirectly reflect sunlight into the room with a beautifully soft effect.”
“Our design practice is totally grounded in history.”
- Rolf Blakstad
Blakstad inspires with their desire to preserve cultural significance and honour local communities — a practice which extends beyond the White Isle. “We get attention for our label as an Ibiza-based firm, but we work globally,” says Rolf. “We offer our experience in arid climates across Europe, Central America, the Middle East and Africa, working closely with local experts to respect the original architecture of these places.”
The studio’s steady growth is backed by decades of knowledge and authenticity, with properties such as Can Arcadia laying a blueprint for how architects can weave the old into the new. “I think we’ve kept the flame of ancient principles alive, which is very satisfying.”
Can Arcadia is for sale, listed at €9,900,000.