THE PHOENICIAN HOUSE?
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
Well, I don’t know if that’s true but what I always tell my
tourists is that the most
important thing about
is NOT its notoriety of psychotropic substances, clubbers, sex
this yes...) and hippies.
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
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
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
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,......
NO leaks inside.
GUIDE: Maria de las Mercedes Pallares
of the A.P.I.T.I.F
- Association of
OFFICIAL TOURIST GUIDES for Ibiza and Formentera