Volax village in Tinos retains in the historic continuum the colour of its medieval Venetian origin, its mountainous agricultural economy and the art of wickerwork it is known for. Next to the settlement is one of the most renowned lunar landscapes worldwide. Enormous, round granite rocks – the so-called volakes – have been seeding the land and feeding the locals’ imagination over the centuries. Some claim that these rocks are parts of one of the two moons, which in ancient times revolved around the earth. Others believe that the rocks were used as weapons by the Titans against the Olympian gods.
There is belief that such rocks can also be found in Mexico. The construction of a residence in this unique site, in sense of natural and living aspect, was a real challenge. With respect to the landscape, three separate volumes were designed, connected to each other via passageways around a central patio. These volumes house the principal facilities of the residence and vary in height, dimensions and materials. Their placement on the plot is random, almost disorderly, as if they have fallen from the sky. As it probably happened to the round rocks.
The northern side of the residence is bounded by the independent structure, a concrete volume that accommodates the communal spaces. It is an artificial method to protect the space from the Northern wind, made of fair-faced and untreated concrete. The material offers a visual assimilation with the rock while it supports a new concept of timelessness; over time, nature will prevail on the cement surface and the house will be integrated in the overall rocky landscape. Its oblong, rectangular shape becomes a contrasting frame that highlights the roundness of the rocks.
Inside, the structure becomes transparent allowing for unification with the outdoor space. The other two volumes house the living areas and are made of stone, a material commonly used in the houses of the village. The stone volume in closer proximity to the village is the tallest so as to have the same analogy/scale with the village houses; the other volumes are lower in order for the residence to gradually fade out and become one with nature. The three independent volumes are connected to each other via two bridge-like passageways clad in wood.
The buildings embrace the rocks in such way that a patio is formed among them, in the south part of the house, which provides the ideal conditions for the residents’ outdoor living. The old threshing floors and the “kelia” or stables, considered as tokens of history, can be still found in the plot. In spite of the fact that the residence does not adopt the white geometry as is customary in the Cyclades, it constitutes the acclaimed, studied yet innovative evolution of local vernacular architecture. Besides, the gist of local architecture lies not in colour but in structure, volume analogies and in the way that these volumes are placed on the ground.
The strong point of the composition was the distant horizon, the sky and sea blue combined with the landscape of dry grass, which played a special role in the design. The Aegean northerly wind adds a continuous vitality to the landscape, not only to sights of the sea and grass, but also to the wrinkling of the swimming pool surface, which comes close to the accommodation spaces, advancing an austere architecture, perfectly adapted to its natural environment.
Bare concrete, as main construction element, is used in a non-imposing manner, offering the ability to configure internal and external spaces of equal importance and aesthetics.Thus, a sequence of orthogonal concrete frames is created, comprising “breathing” atriums for the interior to open out to, as well as recesses wherein semi- outdoor spaces are formed in direct connection with the indoor ones, and as their functional extension.
This purely geometrical layout is consistent with the linear development of each swimming pool’ surrounding area. Furniture is minimal and purely functional, corresponding with the architecture. The main material used is cement screed on flooring, sought to match the concrete of walls, and on the bathroom walls.
The bathroom and kitchen benches are in Corian, with plaster board suspended ceilings in the bedrooms, and discreet hidden lighting on the premises. Sliding glass panels with thin aluminium frames take up the whole of the elevation fronts, ensuring visual unification between indoor and outdoor areas. The pergolas in Swedish timber are painted grey.
The design concerns the repair and completion of an existing incomplete villa and the design of its outdoor areas.
The building shell is located on an inclined seaside plot, with unobstructed pelagic views and in dialogue with the natural element, which declares its presence in every place inside and outside of the building.
Entry to the site occurs both on the northern and southern side. The residence unfolds in two levels; the first comprises the living areas and two en-suite bedrooms, each with an independent entrance.
The second level houses a bedroom, a bathroom and a terrace.
The aim of the design was to create a residence with outdoor areas that respects the landscape and local architecture, while serving its operational needs at the same time.
The basic principle of the proposal is the integration of internal and external spaces. Additional architectural elements are synthesized with the old, based on the various soil levels, dressed in earthy tones.
Interior spaces draw references from the Cycladic architecture, which is conveyed in contemporary lines.
Built-in, unchanging elements are added for the various functions, walls are coated with coarse white plaster, while on the ground floor level, rocky sections are left uncovered through large openings on the eastern wall of the rooms, allowing the natural element to coexist with the structured.
All floors are laid with cement screed in a light grey colour, while wood, natural or in a white or grey finish, is mainly used on door and window casings, ceilings and cupboard panels.
The existing stone masonry of the elevations is left untouched. It was decided to cover the volume of the mill in grey plaster, to achieve visual harmony with the landscape.
The surrounding area in stepped levels transfers key functions closer to the sea. Two staircases integrate it with the roof of the building, rendering it accessible.
A swimming pool and spaces under wooden pergolas comprising outdoor sitting, dining and BBQ complete the surrounding area, whose configuration is a continuation of the building lines, directing the gaze to the sea.
The redesign of the residence in Chora, Mykonos Town, with the addition of a new floor, aimed to create an introspective space that is protected from prying eyes, without being deprived of views.
The architectural design restates the Cycladic standard whitewashed house with a yard, presenting a main volume of stone, concrete and trowelled plaster, which projects and simultaneously recedes with plasticity of form, creating corridors, walkable roofs, recessed sitting corners, even a swimming pool. Loose post and beam pergolas in solid wood delimit the key points of the surrounding area, i.e. the entries to the plot, the residence and the pool.
The stone structure of the existing building is left untreated on the lower level and part of the ground floor, with additions at ground and first floor levels coated in white. According to the new requirements of the residence, the internal layout of its three levels allows them to function independently.
The southeastern main entrance leads to a central corridor-circulation axis that intersects the plan in the middle and successively joins the front yard to the kitchen, the internal communal sitting area and the back yard, ending in a rectangular pool. Two en-suite bedrooms and one master suite are on either side of the corridor. The lower level comprises a separate guesthouse with two en-suite bedrooms, a kitchen and sitting area, as well as auxiliary and functional spaces.
On the higher level, two more en-suite bedrooms open out towards the walkable roof, one to a private terrace and the other to the length of the level enjoying panoramic views to the port and the sunset. Apart from the white walls, the colour palette inside follows the darker hues of natural stones and minerals of the island, as manifested in the dark wooden staircase, metal furniture and decorative elements.
The cement screed of interior floors follows the gravel laying the external yards and the cement flags of the entries chromatically. Wooden trellises verdant with herbs and shrubs signify the communal outdoor areas and provide cooling, at the same time contributing to the building’s privacy despite its proximity to the settlement.
The two storey residence is situated on a green slope that ends in a small secluded beach, on the coastline of the strait separating the islands of Lefkas and Meganisi, with the Ionian Sea and mainland Acarnanian Mountains as backdrop.
Stylistically, the architecture attempts to bridge the gap between the more traditional volumes found in the Ionian and a modern open aesthetic that takes advantage of the Mediterranean light. The steep incline proved to be an engineering challenge. The solution was provided by retaining walls that form terraces along the site featuring a swimming pool, as well as external sitting and relaxation areas.
The building comprises two white double-storey volumes topped with gabled roofs; the volumes are linearly arranged with a slight offset along the longitudinal horizontal axis and are bridged by a closed atrium in black render and glass, where the main entrance is. This transparent volume contains the main staircase, a vertical circulation core that spreads out horizontally via a gallery in both directions of both levels.
An external orthogonal frame was created to pitch on the slabs of the cantilevered verandas, embracing the façade of the house and literally framing the views enabled by continuous glass panels on both levels towards Meganisi, Thylia, Scorpios, Sparti and Madouri islets of Leucadic Polynesia. The residence accommodates five bedrooms in the two levels of its southern volume.
The upper floor houses two master bedrooms with en-suites and mezzanines; the slightly larger one comprising two bathrooms and an external al fresco shower. The northern volume accommodates a unified double-height space with a kitchen and dining area, two large lounges as well as mezzanine with a custom-designed children’s playroom. Fabrics and carpets in natural textures ensure the serenity of open plan spaces.
The colour palette of the furniture is in natural shades, with white prevailing on walls and ceilings. Verandas, like terraces respectively, are protected along their length with low parapets made of glass treated with a hydrophobic coating so as not to require frequent cleaning due to their proximity to the sea. Finally, the use of energy efficient materials in the outer shell and in bespoke window and door frames resulted in lower energy consumption for altering the room temperature of the dwelling.