Can Arabi is a soaring labour of love. For nature, reflected in the way the house fuses into the hilltop pine grove.
For family, due to the way it was designed to emulate its owners’ personalities and tightknit relationship. But also because of the respect and admiration the finished house has for the island, its environment, and a more sustainable path forward.
Building amidst the delicate milieu of a pine forest presented challenges – but also opportunities. Working to safeguard the trees at all costs, the house was neatly slotted between the trunks, working with the topography of the hill to lay the foundation into a natural inflection. With a foundation that resembles the shape of a Z, the use of natural sunlight was maximised, maintaining the higher- set trees that seem to hang over the house. The layered south-western view, which stretches over the lower plain of farming fields, onto the San Antonio cityscape, and out onto the bay, islands, and sea horizon beyond, was enhanced with the preservation of seven pine trees, which now frame the unfolding view. Persuading the owners to save the trees was guided by the truism that it may only take twenty minutes to chop them down, but twenty years to regrow. By resisting the frequent urge to remove pines and clear the hill, the house instantly assimilated into its picturesque setting. The house mirrors the family it was made for in myriad ways. The spacious, open-plan kitchen, lined with colourful ceramic wall tiles, was designed to accommodate their love for cooking.
Two distinct dining areas speak to their preference to connect around meals. A round dining table adjoins the kitchen, while the more protected interior patio replete with colourful fruit trees and tropical plants provides the perfect oasis for a late-morning breakfast or a more elaborate summer celebration. Back inside, a curated collection of textured ceramics in the lounge anchors the interiors with a sense of Mediterranean provenance. Perched on the south- western, sunset-facing corner of the house, a semi-enclosed outdoor lounge area offers a peaceful, sea breeze-kissed alcove in the summer months, with the option to close it off in winter, using the fireplace without sacrificing the sensation of feeling projected out onto the view. A home designed with family in mind, each space seems to breath affection and thoughtfulness.
Gently informing Can Arabi’s logic is the treaty of Vitruvius, a Roman philosophy of architecture that stretches back two millennia. Winding in elements of durability (firmitas), commodity and utility (utilitas), and elements that raise spirits (venustas), Jaime Romano honed in on ideas about positioning the home in relation to the hill and the plain.
Designing an outward perspective that retains defensive, durable qualities, the house is still positioned to embrace the sun, air, and sea views. In this sense, Can Arabi is quintessentially Mediterraneo, with its own distinctive nod to the Balearic milieu.
Such ideas are elaborated into specific spaces, design elements and materials. The upstairs annexe is an independently- accessed master bedroom which seems to imitate the ascending curvature of the hill. Featuring its own bathroom, private patio shaded by esparto curtains, and a private jacuzzi, this bedroom looks onto a beautifully landscaped rooftop garden that creates a feeling of being completely nestled within nature.
The use of different forms of stonework solidifies the desire to connect the house to the past. The façade, made from the Mallorcan mares stone, references a castle in Palma, while sparse stepping stones lead down to the infinity pool, where solid walls inspired by the old payés terraces generate a waterfall
that gives a soothing aural effect to the garden. Inside the house, stone floors have an alternating opus romano rectangular pattern. The prominent
wall of the interior patio has been given a striking corrugated effect, giving it a contemporary, almost sculptural edge. Materials such as chestnut wood were used for the kitchen cabinets, and solid, stratified oak beams frame the entrance. The central pergola, which merges with the living area by large retractable pocket windows, is characterised by pronounced vertical lines, deepening the layered view beyond, imbuing each afternoon with stunning sunset-derived silhouettes while maintaining the house’s feeling of transparency and freshness.
The integrated vision emanating from Can Arabi also carries with it a message of reciprocity. Embedding the house nto the natural landscape, building
with longevity in mind, and cultivating a deeper connection for the home’s custodians, all illustrate a profound respect for the island. For Jaime Romano, who, when first visiting the island, recalls being told the allure of Ibiza is how it seems to mirror one’s intentions, building such a cohesive and considerate home is equal parts philosophy and promise.
Location and date of construction
Miguel Ángel Sánchez
Jason Watson @Terravita
Cesar Horrillo (technical architect & project manager)
Rosa Rey @Box3 (interior designer)
Lluis Oliva (site architect)
Nina Negru (architect)
Jennifer Correa @Box 3 (architect)
Ventura Arcas @Indal-tec (M&E)
Jesús Rodríguez @Marí-Balaguer
Arquitectos (structural engineer)
General contractor and suppliers
Balafia de Baix (general contractor)
Box 3 (kitchen, bathrooms, cabinets, lighting and decoration)
Kehlbeck GmbH & co. KG (furniture)
Ibiza Pitiusa instaladora (MEP installations)
Arriaga Stones (stone façade)
Industrias Mairata (aluminum joinery)
Estructuras Tapias (metallic structures)
Piscinas MD Portmany (swimming pool)
Dinamic Lab (lighting systems)
Terravita team (landscaping)
Arquitectura y Diseño, July 2021