Xerolithi House’s main facades imitate stone retaining walls to blend into the landscape

The main focus of this project’s design was to create a house that blends in its natural environment. An environment in Serifos, Greece comprised of steep dirt and gravel slopes, dressed with scattered wild thorny bushes, and beautiful large rock formations. Though the most important existing elements were the short stone retaining walls, locally called xerolithies, created a long time ago for land cultivation purposes.

When one thinks of the Greek Islands and their vernacular architecture, scattered and stacked white boxes come to mind. The first step for Sinas Architects was to challenge this morphological preconception by imagining the main facades (front and back) of the house being formed as xerolithies. They start low and gradually develop a sufficient height for a house. They move gently closer and away of the slope and independently from one another, forming spaces in between them.

To achieve this, all the functions of the house were placed sequentially making it long and narrow. The walls have a lightness that seems like they were affected by the strong Cycladic winds, like ribbons in the air. To complete the xerolithia likeness, the roof of the house was covered with dirt and vegetation imitating the natural landscape. This made the house almost invisible, especially when seen from behind and afar.

Another important feature of the Cycladic rural house is the wooden pergola, which consisted of thick, raw, smooth, wooden beams and columns with a bamboo cover, all in their natural color. This structure appears also in the interior of the house, on the ceiling, following the traditional way of constructing roofs. This particular element was used along the entire length of the structure, inside and outside.

The beams supporting this structure naturally could not be placed parallel to each other, instead, they follow the house’s curvy morphology, like vertebrae on a long spinal cord. As a result, the bamboo was knitted in a fishbone manner creating a unique pattern with beautiful shade textures. 

The doors and windows are wooden and simple with a light olive color and the main exterior walls are stone with no joint mortar. Both these decisions follow the traditional style and technique.

Design and info © Sinas Architects

Images © Yiorgos Kordakis

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