Located on the beautiful Greek island of Crete, this seafront family house appears discretely on the road out of Heraklion, modest, stone clad; a single storey building that belies what lies beneath. Once beyond the gates however, it begins, little by little to open up its articulated spaces, offering glimpses of different sceneries of green and blue, until finally revealing its commanding views across the garden and out to the the sea. From the beachside, the house projects its strong interlaced geometry, while its singular materiality of pietra serena stone of the façade and the terrace grounds it solidly to the earth, giving the impression that the house has emerged from the ground as a lavic eruption.
The detailing of the exterior of the building however gives it lightness and emphasises the horizontal lines; lightness, curiously giving weight to the idea that this stone structure could perhaps be easily dismantled. A juxtaposition of grounding the house to the land and enabling it to fly away.
With a plan generated by a precise geometry and a section informed by the level differences between the entrance road and the beach front, the impression on arrival is of a house carved out of the landscape. The building is separated from the road by a series of descending gardens, a buffered gorge offering quiet respite, shaded with an arched pergola (incorporating the buildings structural bracing). Descending the stone steps, accompanied always by the series of stepped planters, a coloured glazed entrance is located at a half level and here we begin to glimpse through to the garden and sea beyond. The coloured glass of this south wall means that the internal stairs and bridge are always bathed in bright hues of light.
On entering, access is down a sweeping curved stair to the double height dining space or, to the upper level, occupied by the family bedroom suites. The fulcrum of the house is the double height dining space, traversed by a bridge connecting the two bedroom wings. Off of this central space are the living areas and kitchen, all opening direct to the seafront garden. The fluent circulation continuously changes the perception of the space and its relationship to the exterior. As in the gardens, the organisation of the spaces in the house is condensed yet continuous and is intended to take the experience of being in the house beyond the rooted and enclosed domestic scale.
The sweeping cantilevered balconies of the bedrooms, their form also a recognisable homage to the island’s sea faring history, offer shade to the living spaces on the garden level, protecting them from the unyielding high sun, while their generous depth ensure the bedroom suites above remain private and recessed. As such, the house works on both an intimate and an open, social scale. The house is very private, protected and not overlooked, however the form and volume of the house also creates an open, generous outlook, embracing its setting and taking quiet ownership of its prospect over the Aegean.
The path of the zenithal Cretan sun creates shafts of light that narrate the day in the interior spaces while the aquamarine and golden sands are reflected on the glazing. The sharpness of the sunlight plays a high contrasting game of shadows and can desaturate the exterior anthracite cladding, making it appear almost white. This movement of sunlight, emphasised by the buildings clear and precise geometry, the hint of the deep gorges of the island’s mountains in the gardens, geometries that afford the shade and shadows of trees; these conditions are those we experience in the natural landscape and those that have been brought here to comfort us and serve to anchor spaces to a place.
Material Used :
1. Reinforced concrete walls and columns
2. Steel beams
3. Composite steel + concrete floor decks
4. Facade cladding & exterior paving
5. Natural grey sandstone, painted plaster
6. Walls: Plasterboard, paint, mosaic
7. Ceilings: Plasterboard, paint
8. Floors: Parquet