“I learned from Broner and Sert that a genuine architecture which endures over time can be done with simple means”
I was born as the 3rd child of an Artist Painter in northern Germany. In 1960, when I was 5, my father escaped with his family from the melancholic teutonic grey to the brilliant light of the Mediterranean island Ibiza, ”Eivissa” in Catalan. For the first time, I saw the white cubes of the peasant houses, built by their inhabitants with simple means and following a Phenician pattern. I felt fascinated and attracted by the Mediterranean architecture, please mastery into the landscape of rocks and Pine trees.
As a young boy, I was playing and drawing in the studio of Erwin Broner, a German Jew, Artist Painter, and Architect, who had known Ibiza during his first exile in the late 1930ies. After a long journey of almost 17 years, first to London and later to California, he turned back to his beloved mythic Island in 1957. In the following 20 years, Broner designed a series of contemporary houses for international clients. Conceived in the tradition of European rationalism, the uncompromising buildings yet merge at perfection with the Mediterranean landscape. Nowadays, to live in a Broner-House is still considered a privilege.
Another famous Master Architect, Barcelona born Josep Lluis Sert, Dean of the Harvard Graduate Design School from 1953 to 1969, turned back to Ibiza in 1970. As did Broner, his first act in the Island was to build his own studio house, situated in the historic ”Dalt Vila” District. Sert and my father have been known each other. During five years, he lived and painted in the Sert Studio, before the family settled in the “Can Pep Simó” condominium, a design from Sert and other Catalán architects friends.
Born and educated in a medieval town in Westphalia, I undertook my architectural studies at the Technical University of Berlin. Once finished my career, I undertook a useful journey through Europe, serving as an architectural apprentice in several studios in Belgium and Spain. I was happy to learn with the renaissance like Master architect Bruno Albert in Liège, where I learned that beauty and proportions are our finest tools. My first professional steps in Barcelona a link to the PSP Studio. Ferran de los Santos and Joan Maria Pascual were so patient to explain the secrets of Catalán craftsmanship to the young German architect.
The next steps were the association with Guillermo Bañares, a practice, which lasted 20 years. I own Guillermo the knowledge of Spanish society and uncountable conversations about architecture and design, scouting together our projects, a broad range of residential, hospitality, corporate and industrial buildings.
Finally, at the beginning of the severe financial and Economic crisis, in 2007 I created my own practice, Wortmann Architects.
Although I consider myself, aware of my German roots, as a “Mediterranean Prussian”, I feel at home under the Mediterranean sun in the ancient “Marca Hispanica” of Catalonia. Since more than 30 years, I enjoy to live and work as an Architect, with my family, in Barcelona.
Johannes K. Wortmann.