Ibiza is surely one of the most popular destination for summer holidays, but beyond the crowded beaches and famous discos there is a rural island, slow and calm. The traditional house represents the essence of the island.
The house from Ibiza has been studied and published since its discovery by the avant-garde architects from the beginning of XX century. Its volume is based on white cubes, with blank walls and small apertures, and was a inspiration of Modern Movement.
Nowadays the house from Ibiza is studied from other perspective, which is in relation with ecology and bioconstruction: these are dwellings that adapt themselves to the territory, are discreetly situated in a slope, on the cultivated land, but never on the top of the mountains. They are elevated with materials offered by the natural site (masonry, savine wood, dry algae, clay); their access open to the South while the building closes to the North; they are supported with thick stone walls of 80cm wide and have flat roofs to collect rainwater…
Before summer we had the opportunity of visiting one of these dwellings, Can Cirer, in the North of the island. It is a big building with all the classic elements of the land house from Ibiza. The typical living rooms are part of it, the storage and animal spaces as well. The house of Ibiza is results from the join of several small and independent units, called themselves house, casa, too. Each casa has a specific funtion, for example: casa de jeure (bedroom), casa d’es porc (pig house), casa d’es carro (shed for the wagon).
The rooms from the farm are situated around the access to the dwelling, generating a courtyard in the entrance, The main door usually opens to the South, but in this case it doesn’t. The enviromental requirements don’t recommend it, as the house should be oriented Southwest-Northeast to protect itself from the strong winds that come from the sea.
Passing through the entrance we find the Porxo, main space of the dwelling. It is called like that because in the beginning it was an open space (as it can be seen in older and simpler houses from the island). Its use is flexible, it was a semi-public space to attend the visits. There were chairs to work on daily tasks, to chat; food was storaged also there. The light cames from the door that was always open and had a small hole above for defending. It was a representative space, therefore it had stone floor and savine wood beams in the roof, disposed as the ribs of a boat. The dwelling organize itself around this space and to it open to the rest of rooms.
In the left there was the kitchen, a place where the life happens, specially in winter. We can explain it dividing it in two parts: one is the fireplace, that was on the floor and the family sits around it, with a oven and a pedra aigüera, a vessel embedded in the wall that was filled with hot water to wash the dishes; the other one is the kitchen itself, with three little stoves to cook, no with fire but with coal from the fireplace. This last room wasn’t covered with savine , but with pine wood beams. The space was usually full of smoke (the walls are totally black) and soot covered the wood, protecting it. When these dwellings are abandoned, the roof of the kitchen is the first to fall down; as its use was lost, the protection disappears and the roof deteriorates quickly. To avoid the smoke in the kitchen to enter to the porcho there was an element called parafum, that was a chimney above the porxo door.
To finish the ground floor there is the bedroom, the knitting house (casa d’es telers) and a storage. Upstaris there are the upper houses (cases de dalt) used to sleep. This was the last enlargement of the building, made with new materials like hidraulic flooring, with thiner walls and larger windows.
From there we can access to the high porch (porxada), where the land products were dryed, and the pig slaugther room (casa de sa matança) where the products made with pig meat were storaged, sobrassades y botifarrons.
The auxiliary rooms from the house were used for animal barn, as it was like a farm where the pig house (casa d’es porc) was very important, as the animal lived there the whole year, was fed by the family until the slaughter. It had also a mudhole. The casa de sa botiga kept the agriculture tools. Next to it there is the hay loft (pallisa), with direct access from the hay plot, located in the upper than the house.
Next to the kitchen and bellow the pallisa there is the bodega, with a wine press and barrels.
All these houses seem like the same but there aren’t two siblings. This is because they were enlarged responding to the needs of the family and their wealthiness. They were built following composition rules very basic, that were transmitted from father to children. Its measures are based in the man: 4 steps is the wide of the room, a man stand gives the height of it, the arms opened are the wide of the main door, walls of 4 hands, etc.
In the plot land of this house there is a fountain with two water spring overlapped, that supplied drink water enough to fill two irrigation tanks. It was surrounded by fruit trees, cherry trees (cirers) among them. From there comes the name of the place Can Cirer
For more information, we recommend the book “Eivssa, El Palau Pagès” from F.Joachin and Ph. Rothier, (published in french and in Catalans).
By the way, the house is for sale…