The owners of this remarkable home on the Spanish island of Mallorca needed plenty of patience during their search for a Mediterranean holiday property: it took no less than three years of careful hunting to find the place they were looking for.
At last they discovered the right house – built in the late 1950s by a renowned Mallorcan architect and situated on a rocky cliff top on the outskirts of Santa Ponsa in the island’s Calvià district. The property’s location is nothing less than spectacular. Situated on a peninsula-like site, it overlooks two separate bays, with views of the open Mediterranean on the horizon in one direction and the small port town of Santa Ponsa in the other.
Situated on a peninsula-like site, the property’s location is nothing less than spectacular
This made it the perfect choice for the new owners, who have a large extended family and wanted a holiday spot where everyone could gather from around the world to spend time together. While it’s currently a secondary home, it’s envisaged that the house will progressively become a primary residence as the older members of the family retire.
The existing structure had been subject to a renovation sometime in the 1990s that had some unfortunate elements, including ugly aluminium windows that had been added to the facade and a rather cold interior that featured high-shine marble floors. The design-conscious owners determined right away on a substantial renovation, and called in Mallorca-based architecture and design practice Moredesign to work on the project.
Attracted by the practice’s minimalist, contemporary approach, which also showcases historic and location-appropriate rustic elements, the owners’ brief included a request to use the right raw materials to create simplicity and serenity in the space. “We wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, where anyone would want to read a book, fall asleep, have an intimate conversation,” says Moredesign co-founder and designer Manuel Villanueva. “And we wanted the house to fit gently into its surroundings, as well as making the best use of both the morning and afternoon light.”
The renovation began in 2016 and included substantial structural interventions to the pre-existing house. New staircases and passageways were added to connect the different areas of the home more organically; it now features eight bedrooms, most of which are en suite, as well as substantial interior and outdoor living areas, a large kitchen, a separate laundry and a wine cellar.
Key to the overall success of the design is the way the house is oriented to the outdoor landscape that surrounds and envelops it. With its natural stone-clad facade and gently curving roof, the structure blends seamlessly into its rocky, cliff-side site. The unsightly aluminium window frames have been replaced with a system in which the windows appear to have no frames at all. “They are almost voids, which can be opened fully so that the house feels like part of the landscape,” explains Villanueva.
The design also reflects the influence of more naturalistic – and especially Brazilian – strains of mid-20th-century architecture. “We are huge fans of [Brazilian architect] Lina Bo Bardi,” says Moredesign’s other co-founder, Oro del Negro, and this is made clear in “the use of stone cladding, the elongated roof overhangs, the massive openings, the open floor plan and the infusion of landscape [into the interior].” Overall, he adds, the design is all about “functional, pragmatic living.”
We wanted to create a place where anyone would want to read a book, fall asleep, have an intimate conversation
This “blurring of borders” between the interior and exterior, achieved via the huge windows and doors as well as by the fact that the floors of the immediate outdoor terraces are finished in precisely the same way as those in the interior spaces, is precisely what “the magic of Mediterranean landscapes is all about,” says Villanueva. Also key to the success of this aspect of the architecture are the wide overhangs created by the home’s undulating roof structure.
These generous eaves are “one of the greatest architecture elements in the Mediterranean,” he says, adding that these have been forgotten – or perhaps sadly neglected – in recent times. “They protect from rain and especially from sun,” he says. “Being so far south means that the sun in summer is very vertical, so these overhangs permitted us to use the large glass windows without inundating the interior with sunlight that is too bright, hot and direct.” Instead, there is a gentle softness to the natural light that floods the interiors.
The colour palette for the interior design is made up of soft beiges, bone whites and warm greys. Micro-cement floors and pared-back soft furnishings, offset by contemporary artworks carefully chosen by the owners, create a minimalist yet welcoming interior. Natural textures and materials are employed throughout, including signature Moredesign elements such as untreated wood, hand-carved stone and locally manufactured encaustic tiles.
A beautiful blend of inside and out, of softness with transparency, and of the contemporary with the organic, this house epitomises all that is most special about Mediterranean living. Its exceptional design fits perfectly with its beautiful location, and the result is a home in which its owners are set to enjoy a great deal of sun-drenched, relaxed and restorative time.
Photography: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Styling: Tille Del Negro