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22 November 2018

Renovation Gili House in Crisis

The renovation of the Gili house, by Martínez Lapeña and Torres, is in crisis, because it disregards the municipal permit*

This is the second home by the architects that is under threat on Ibiza. A few months ago, the architect Salvador Roig and the COAIB demanded the protection of the Van der Driesche house to avoid its demolition; the authorities were planning to meet this week.

Modern heritage in Ibiza is again threatened. The City Council of Santa Eulària has stopped the work being carried out on the Gili house, one of the most emblematic buildings of José Antonio Martínez Lapeña and Elías Torres in Ibiza. According to sources at the council: “The City Council has previous preliminary diligences against the property of this house for having executed works much superior to what could be allowed under the terms of the minor work license that they requested at the time and that, actually, was requested after the consistory decreed the termination of the work that had been initiated.” It is expected that the owners will be sanctioned: “On Friday the property was informed of the sealing order for the works that are currently being carried out and, from now on, a sanctioning procedure will begin,” explains the same source.

Detail of the illegal works at the Gili house. Photo SALVADOR ROIG

The Gili House is named after the family of publishers who were the first owners. It was completed in 1987 and is one of the most significant works in the development of architects Martínez Lapeña and Torres in the 1980s. The house is located in the urban area of Can Pep Simó, where there are works by important Modern architects such as Josep Lluís Sert, Germán Rodríguez Arias and Albert Ilescas. It is not part of the heritage catalogue of the town because it dates from after 1956, but it is included among the works that the Insular Commission for Land Planning, Urban Planning and Historic-Artistic Heritage (CIOTUPHA) recommended protecting as a result of the approval of the subsidiary regulations of the town. The list includes works by architects such as Erwin Broner, Raimon Torres, Carles Ferrater and Lluís Gascon. The architectural and urban design work of Joseph Lluís Sert is considered as of ‘cultural interest’.

The Santa Eulària City Council will sanction the owner of the Gili house for the works that are being carried out. Photo SAVADOR ROIG.

Unfortunately, it is not the only building by the architects of the 1980s that has suffered alterations: changes have also been made in the restoration of Hospitalet Church, in the city of Ibiza, and the Boenders House, in Sent Antoni.

The precedent of the Van der Driesche house

The Van der Driesche house on a vintage photo. Source: JAMLET.

The Gili House is not the first work of the architects in Ibiza to be under reconstruction. The conservation of the first house in Ibiza by José Antonio Martínez Lapeña and Elías Torres, the Van der Driesche House, is still in the air. Salvador Roig and the Architects' Association of the Balearic Islands called for cataloguing it three months ago, after the new owners submitted an application to demolish it. The Ibizan public authorities have not yet made any decision. According to sources from the Island Council of Ibiza, this week they intend to meet with the City Council of Sant Josep - the house is located in Calla Molí - to address the situation. According to sources from the Sant Josep City Council, the new owners do not want to execute the demolition license they requested: “They asked for a license because they wanted to demolish some parts of the house, but they did not intend to use it, because according to the urban regulations of the area they could not rebuild them.”

Drone video of the Van der Driesche house by local police department of Sant Josep, posted on Facebook 22 September 2018.

The Van der Driesche house was built between 1969 and 1973 and is named after the Dutch family who commissioned Martínez Lapeña and Torres, the architecture firm that received the National Architecture Prize in December. It would be easy to protect it if it were catalogued, but this will not be the case until the architect Juanjo Serra finalizes the writing of the new catalogue of architectural heritage of the City Council of Sant Josep. Then, though, it could be too late. “If the house were included in the catalogue, the justification for protecting the building would be much simpler. We will study what legal basis we have to protect the house between both authorities,” according to sources at the institution. However, as Salvador Roig says, the council could act in a preventive way: “There are articles of the heritage law that allow the suspension of possible actions while analysing the subject,” stresses the architect.

The date of completion of the catalogue of architectural heritage of Sant Josep, which after it is written will have to be put on public show, is not fixed. According to Roig, it is not essential that the house is catalogued to protect it, and he states as a precedent the case of the approval of the subsidiary regulations of Santa Eulalie. “It is difficult to protect the work of a living author as cultural heritage, and it is not included in a heritage catalogue,” says the architect. With respect to the ‘Goods of Cultural Interest’, they are reserved for historical architects.

The Van der Driesche house is in very good condition and few alterations have been made. The COAIB included it in its list of contemporary works suitable for protection. With regard to its most outstanding features, the architects used the reduced dimensions and the strong slope of the lot to great effect, resulting in magnificent views of the sea, and the creation of outdoor spaces sheltered by the existing pines and by sail-like awnings. At the owners’ request the house is divided into two separate blocks. In addition, details such as the angular volumes and the use of ‘soft’ elements such as the sail-like awnings, which are a constant in the architects’ work, make an early appearance in the Van der Driesche house. “All the free spaces in the plot, in small dimensions, have been designed to enable life in the open air, especially the terraces oriented to the sea, covered with the sails of ships,” affirms the architect Stefano Cortellaro in the report issued by the COAIB to request the cataloguing of the building. “The site has been completely occupied by the structure, the interiors and the terraces merge to facilitate both outdoor life and the formation of diverse groups in the frequent meetings,” said the architect of the work. The Cortellaro report also includes the numerous publications where it has appeared, among which the Cuadernos de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Another highlighted publication is the book by Gillo Dorfles, Arquitectura moderna, where, citing the architect Rafael Moneo, the author speaks of the “Kahnian roots” of the house, referring to the work of the architect Louis Kahn.


The Van der Driesche House. Photo JUANJO SERRA.


The Van der Driesche House. Photo JUANJO SERRA.

Stay tuned for updates.

Posted 22 November 2018

*This article by Antoni Ribas was first published in Spanish in ARA newspaper on 16/02/2018. The drone video of the local Police of Sant Josep was added to this English translation of the article by Iconic Houses.