Looking from the bottom of the hillside, it is difficult not to acknowledge the gorgeous contemporary home that stems from the lush vegetation towards the top. The clients, two brothers, wanted a holiday home for throwing parties and enjoying the beautiful views on the hillside in Skiathos, Greece, where they had spent numerous summers as children.
Working closely together, the clients and the design team created a horizontal vacation house that combines the internal with external, maximizing the benefits of the surrounding landscape.
Can you tell us a bit about the story of this house/project and its owners?
Our client’s family owned the plot of land for quite some time before deciding to develop it. They are family friends of the k-studio founding partners and the brothers have strong childhood memories of summers spent playing on it, very aware of the incredible view from it’s hillside location. Eventually the client decided to build a house there, that would celebrate this view and natural landscape surrounding it.
What did your clients ask for in their brief?
The clients are 2 brothers who intended to use the house as their summer vacation house. They wanted to work with us to develop something unique that would work as a social platform/stage for them and parties of their friends to spend summer holidays, but also would be somewhere they could each come alone with a partner or a smaller group for a quieter stay. The house had to be flexible enough to accommodate both scenarios.
What was your approach for the project?
As we started researching and understanding the site and program, we made various massing tests and quickly realised that the main aim should be to retain the view from all areas of the house, as much as possible. This led us to an elongated, horizontal form and spatial arrangement, with big wide openings – always a challenge structurally.
A recurrent theme as we developed the design was the ‘in-between space’ – a key zone that was neither fully shaded nor fully exposed. A pergola would provide a comfortable ‘just right’ space and would be extensive enough to allow various activities to take place beneath it.
The pergola we designed, essentially a huge concrete plane over the house, has given the house a strong identity. It works with the elongated plan and horizontal site, cooling and shading the spaces without obstructing the view or nature.
Which is your favourite/most important feature of this house and why?
It’s a relatively simple intention, to connect the internal and external space under one roof, but its a strong result and the experience of being beneath it is quite special. There is a successful balance of feeling protected but also brought right to the edge of the hill, with green behind you and open blue in front.
What materials have you used and why?
The predominant material is the local stone – slate – for the walls, rooting the design into the landscape. We’ve used steel for the wide span of the pergola and for the thin columns that support it without obstructing views. There are cast concrete elements; expansive glazing to allow for the views and of course timber decking to softly blend with the environment.
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What was the first question you asked yourself when you got the assignment?
How could we make a home that was responsive to the site and the ambitions of the clients, that would enhance and inhabit the landscape?
As this project proves, the Modernist aesthetic inspires many architects. Why do you think this is the case?
To answer on our own behalf, it was a very appropriate aesthetic in this project because we wanted to create a living zone between the inside and outside spaces, working horizontally along the edge of the site. We needed wide openings and minimal vertical structure to minimise our impact on the site and showcase the view and the natural environment.