THE PHOENICIAN HOUSE? - Ibiza Architecture

The old Ibizan houses inspired many great architects400 year old Ibizan Farm House or FincaThe primitive, mostly illiterate Ibizan built a module and, as the family grew, kept adding modules

According to my admired Ralph Blackstad, a Canadian who has lived in Ibiza since the fifties, and is an expert on Ibizan architecture, his theory is that the old Ibizan houses are of Phoenician origin.
Well, I don’t know if that’s true but what I always tell my tourists is that the most important thing about Ibiza is NOT its notoriety of psychotropic substances, clubbers, sex (well, this yes...) and hippies.
No. What is most important is the architecture of its old country houses (I’m afraid not many left nowadays...)

These houses inspired many great architects who lived here, like Raoul Haussmann, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius (who designed the Bauhaus movement in Germany) and the famous Catalan architect, Josep Lluis Sert who became Dean of Architecture in Harvard, among others.
They were all inspired by the humble Ibizan country farms.

The primitive, mostly illiterate Ibizan, had a very advanced idea of modern architecture without knowing it, of course; because he built a module and, as the family grew, kept adding modules.
This became a very functional house, esthetically very beautiful and a very modern concept.

The whitewashed walls of these houses were nearly a meter wide, had very small windows - sometimes no windows at all (for defence purposes)- and when they did have windows, they placed two pieces of Phoenician Juniper wood in the form of a cross for protection.

The front of the houses face the southern part of the island.
All this, the fact that the walls were wide, the windows small, and faced the south, made them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer (they thought about absolutely everything!)

Then the roofs are flat in order to gather the little water that falls (average: thirty days of rain a year) so it would go to the well.
The roofs were made in three layers: a layer of Phoenician Juniper wood, another of ash and the leaves of the Posidonia (which is what everyone thinks is seaweed but it’s not because it’s a plant with seeds and flowers and, by the way, it has been declared World Heritage by Unesco...) that acted as isolation, and a layer of clay.

Now, sometimes, this clay would crack with the hot summer sun, so one would think that if it rained they would have leaks inside the house; NO WAY!
They were so clever in olden times, even though they didn’t know how to read or write, and weather was normal, (not like nowadays...) that usually it wouldn’t rain from the second fortnight in April until the end of August, beginning of September, when we would have a colossal summer storm, striking lightening and thunder, water pouring furiously all over the island. One would think it was going to sink!

However, the following day the sun came out (it rarely rained two days in a row...)
What the Ibizans did before this first rain fell, is put dry mud on the roof, this mud would melt with the rain, cover the cracks, dry up in the sun the following day and,...... supercalifragilistickexpialidotious! NO leaks inside.

by IBIZA GUIDE: Maria de las Mercedes Pallares

Member of the A.P.I.T.I.F 
- Association of OFFICIAL TOURIST GUIDES for Ibiza and Formentera


Personal blog of this Ibiza Guide: Del sol y de sus lunas


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