Occupying a typical modernist 1950s single story residence in the Athenian suburb of Chalandri, Lollo’s Atene is the urban version of its summertime sibling on the island of Antiparos. ak-a‘s desire was to create a simple, fresh and wholesome environment, much like the Italian menu on offer, while simultaneously acknowledging the material and formal particularities of residential architecture of this period.
The interior of the house had undergone multiple interventions over the years due to successive changes in its use and internal arrangements. These subsequent additions were removed in order to reach its innermost, sincere form: its skeleton. Interior and exterior walls are made of stone. Older modifications led to the use of metal beams to support the roof, which is, interestingly enough, made of solid bricks and concrete. The aim was to reveal, rather than hide, the complexity of this structure, and to assist its coexistence with the new interventions.
In the dining room, anything located below the window sill is painted in a deep green, as if it is dipped in oil. All textures are smoothed and polished through the use of lacquers and glossy varnishes. A large oval table made of polished terrazzo occupies the semi-circular bay window alcove. Its surface was constructed in situ following the traditional construction method of the period, and is composed of white, black and red aggregate within olive green cement.
Everything above the datum line, i.e. the structural elements (stone, brick, metal) and new additions (air vents, lighting channels, speakers), has been covered with a veil of white paint. Through this chromatic uniformity, the complexity of the elements is simplified, and roughness of the materials is smoothed. The strict dichotomy of the space gives the diners and the colorful dishes served a prominent role.
The large glazed surface separating the kitchen, and the lighting fixtures are finished with hammered copper paint, adding a touch of color to the two-toned space. The glazing itself acts like bright screen where the uninterrupted movement of the kitchen is projected.
The lighting fixtures featured in the dining area, including the spindly-legged cascading ceiling light hanging above the oval table and the star-shaped sconces on the stone walls, were custom-designed for the restaurant and composed of metal tubes culminating in exposed lightbulbs of a similar geometry.
Through the intense contrasts that are created by simultaneously concealing and revealing the building’s textures and materiality, the architects juxtaposed the smooth with the rugged, the dark with the light, the glossy with the matte, the present with the past.
The building’s narrow covered balcony and lush garden provide additional opportunities for different seating conditions to the visitor, who is surrounded by one of the few remaining urban gardens in Athens.
Design and info © ak-a
Images © George Messaritakis