For architects, every project presents a unique challenge – something to chew on, workshop and mull over until a solution appears, sometimes as if by magic but more often through (metaphorical) blood, sweat, and tears. For Jason Watson-Todd and his team at Terravita, it’s these challenges that bring the most satisfaction, and this recent project located in San José presented the ideal opportunity to flex their skills and ingenuity.
The couple who purchased the property had already renovated the interiors and were left with a conundrum of peculiar angles, irregular forms, and dead-end voids in the exterior spaces. They knew making a functional outdoor area was going to be an essential component of creating their ideal Ibiza lifestyle, but with such unusual footprints, it would take somewhat of a mastermind to figure it out. This is where Jason and Terravita came in.
Known for an innovative approach to design as well as being Ibiza’s premier eco-conscious architecture and landscaping firm, Terravita has almost 25 years of experience building stunning sustainable homes and gardens across the island. The owners of this villa knew they would be the right choice to create a harmonious and eco-friendly space within the tangled corners of their home’s exterior. Pursuing viable ecological solutions and an outdoor area that encouraged familial connection in addition to providing moments for quite repose was the brief, but the Terravita team weren’t dealing with a neat rectangular block onto which they could impress any number of ideas as with most villas.
On first inspection, the Terravita design team found degraded concrete slabs and the detritus of the home’s renovation scattered within weird angles. This was not a traditional garden, but a series of nooks and crannies that appeared like leftover spaces. “We had to basically turn these odd shapes to our advantage,” says Watson-Todd. “We analysed every square centimetre to figure out how to give a feeling of spaciousness but with privacy and cosiness.”
Watson-Todd began envisioning the outcome through the lens of biophilic design – a concept that connects the occupants of a space with the natural environment. “We try to fuse architecture and nature,” says Watson-Todd. “The idea is to pull the natural elements in and then use materials like woods, clays, rattan, and bamboo to bring contemporary warmth.” In keeping with the Terravita ethos, every aspect of the design and construction adhered to strict environmental protocols.
Beautiful ashy-brown bamboo decking was laid just above the ground to protect the roots of existing trees. Not only is this material a good environmental choice, but it’s almost as strong as steel, and much less cumbersome to care for than teak. Micro-cement has been selected and mixed with natural materials to produce a pleasing texture against bare feet. Clay and rattan accents appear against traditional Ibizan whitewash, and cushions come in an array of jute, linen, and cotton. Of course, in signature Terravita style, solar lighting is employed throughout, casting golden shadows as stars appear in the sky.
The pool fits neatly alongside a stone terrace on one side and seems to disappear into the fence on the other. An elongated built-in lounge is saturated in sunlight, wooden steps are flanked by textured earthen pots, and a cosy patio is enclosed with wood slats tinted a shade of burnt cinnamon. Surprisingly, there’s also a spacious alfresco dining area with a full kitchen, Ofyr grill, and a cantilevered steel dining table. “We wanted to give a feeling of expansion, to find that balance between opening things out and feeling protected,” says Watson-Todd. “When you’re inside the garden, you literally have a microclimate.”
Every aspect of the family’s life was considered in the design, even down to the way they store their surfboards (yes, even in Ibiza!). “They’re in the parking area, and the way we did it makes the boards look like they’re framed,” says Watson-Todd. “It was great fun. I love small spaces because you really have to stretch your creativity.” As with any architectural project, the proof is in the living, and the family has completely fallen in love with their new home. With each unique corner and intricate detail designed by Terravita, these spaces demonstrate the art of reimagining the unconventional into a seamless fusion of nature, comfort, privacy, and style.