A Barcelona Rooftop Sanctuary Inspired By Japanese Art

April 21, 2018 by

For a rooftop terrace in Barcelona’s Horta district, landscape designers Jordi Sanchez and Nico Doblado of Simbiosi Studi created a unique outdoor sanctuary with a retro aesthetic influenced by Japanese art.

Sanchez and Doblado’s plan interpreted the expressed interests of their client, a young single man who wished to expand and totally transform his penthouse terrace into a unique sanctuary for sunbathing, dining with friends and family, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Introducing exotic historical references into their master plan, the designers drew inspiration from Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print, the Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the world’s most recognizable works of Japanese art.

With its golden proportions, Hokusai’s iconic print is a reminder of the weakness of the human being against the force of nature, a theme repeated throughout the space using the shapes and colors of the ocean: algae, jellyfish and sea-foam from rolling waves.

The resulting multifunctional space includes a chill-out area, barbecue, long dining table for accommodating groups, and an extra-large bed for relaxing al fresco.

The custom-built design incorporates a blend of recycled certified sustainable wood, a green roof and living walls, low consumption lighting, Corten steel, stone gravel and slabs of various patterns, sizes and textures.

The Japanese-style xeriscaped scheme consists of low maintenance, exclusively native and drought-tolerant plants appropriate for the region’s warm Mediterranean climate. Aeonium arboreum, Kalanchoe marmorata, and Senecio cuneatus reference blue curling waves, and as a companion plant, the rustic fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

For the entrance’s parterre, the designers selected Yucca rostrata to evoke texture of the ocean’s wild sea spray. Around the perimeter, Euphorbia andelabrum echoes the sturdy columns supporting the wood pergolas. As a special accent, they integrated several varieties of air plants such as Tillandsia ionantha, Tillandsia fuchsi, Tillandsia bergeri, Tillandia usneoides, and Tillandsia straminea to reference algae and jellyfish in keeping with the marine them throughout.

Nico Doblado, left, and Jordi Sanchez. 

Nico and Jordi are friends, artists with whom I have had the honor and pleasure of working at Temps de Flors in Girona, Spain and in Moscow, Russia together with mutual friend and landscape artist, Marc Grañèn.

Jordi Sanchez and I at a meeting of the Moscow Landscaping Society.

For the Russian project, we once made ikebanas together, during which Jordi announced with glee, “I love what I do!” Ikebana is a disciplined Japanese art form that connects nature and humanity. Practitioners engage in the process in part to appreciate the elements in nature that we often overlook during the course of our busy lives. I see the Hokusai project as a spacial (and special) representation of the tenets of ikebana: a peaceful space in which to escape the tumult of daily life within an arrangement that is at once formal, informal, casual and in harmony with its natural surroundings.  

With gratitude to Marc Grañèn for introducing me to Jordi and Nico and many other talented Catalan artists friends. All images via Simbiosi Studi.



  1. A Barcelona Rooftop Sanctuary Inspired By Japanese Art – EthanClaxton Pingback said:

    […] Sanchez and Doblado’s plan interpreted the expressed interests of … Read More… […]

    — April 21, 2018 @ 22:24

  2. Nadya Jones said:

    So Amazing! I like how they set-up the lighting and how comfy the whole place is. This would be an amazing set up for an outdoor space, adding a gazebo with lovely lighting. Great feature!

    — May 12, 2018 @ 07:04

  3. Season's Greenings - Urban Gardens • realestate.10ztalk.com Pingback said:

    […] 8. A Barcelona Rooftop Sanctuary Inspired By Japanese Art […]

    — December 21, 2018 @ 14:08

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