Kinsterna Hotel and Spa

Divercity Architects as Architects

Kinsterna Hotel and Spa is an example of how to stage the experience of staying in a hotel as a trail of discovery. Kinsterna is a restored mansion built around a cistern in the middle of a lush olive and citrus grove near the Byzantine fortress of Monemvassia. Originally built in the late 18th century, some parts of the building date back to the 13th century. These layers of history were integral to the restoration project. The design encourages visitors to seek their own interpretation of the building’s past, as a voyage through time. Memory, nature and materiality are woven together into a single story, by highlighting one architectural element that can be expounded on many different levels.

In this case, water is the central theme running through the design. For centuries, water has breathed life into these fertile lands, from its source high in the mountains, cascading down a creek and irrigating the fields, before it is channelled into the age-old cistern. Following this path, Divercity extended the natural flow of water, pooling beneath a cantilevered dining platform, meandering through the indoor and outdoor spaces before gently spilling into the swimming pool, which resembles a river. The stream opens up views to the spectacular surroundings: imposing Mount Taygetus on one side; the fortified, medieval Monemvassia on the other.

In the suites and rooms, the atmosphere of the original building has been painstakingly recreated using traditional construction methods and authentic local materials. The fascinating layering of various building phases is rendered in juxtaposed stonework and thick plaster facing. The ceilings either feature exposed stone vaults, cypress beams or traditional woodwork. Patterns on the interior walls allude to traditional lace-making or demonstrate in-filled vaults and fireplaces. The Spa becomes a cinematic experience, where the guests are guided from the mystical darkness of the reception area and changing rooms towards the sunlight, which generously fills the main area.

Text: Stavros Martinos

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