Located amidst the steep dirt and gravel slopes of Serifos, Greece, the Xerolithi house is designed to blend one hundred percent with the landscape it is perched upon. Crafted by Sinas Architects, this 245 sq. m. house is a testimony to harmonious relationships between humans, the built environment, and the terrain.
True, the Xerolithi house manifests itself amongst scattered thorny bushes and large rock formations, in a way that when seen from afar, the residence doesn’t reveal itself. It remains largely invisible until one gets close enough to notice the subtle fenestrations that line the exterior walls on one side.
The house gets its name from the Xerolithies—the ancient retaining walls built against the terrain to create platforms that could support cultivation. Taking after these traditional cues, the house has its outer facades greatly resembling the stone retaining walls of late, with a sinuous profile of lines defining its form and geometry.
The massing follows the existing topography of the site; the walls seem to sprout from the land, slowly rising in height until they could house functions within. They slowly move away from the terrain, parallel to one another creating spaces, the enclosure itself becoming ribbons in the air.
An important notion that guided such design was to change the way Cycladic Architecture is perceived around the world. “When one thinks of the Greek Islands and their vernacular architecture, scattered and stacked white boxes are all that come to mind,” adds the studio.
The designers wanted to challenge this morphological preconception—the main facades become sinuous xerolithies that are not only contextual responses but as well novel expressions of tradition.
This sinuous, narrow, and elongated form gives rise to a linear organization of spaces: arranged sequentially according to function, they are put together in two groups, separated by a pergola.
One group consists of the living, dining, and kitchen spaces, along with one bedroom, whilst the other contains a couple of bedrooms with washrooms attached. There also appears a dedicated area for parking, with three bays, likewise following the same sinuosity in plan.
The spatial groups are separated by a timber pergola: thick, raw, smooth, wooden beams covered in bamboo. Used in their original, natural color, they are in pure harmony with the surroundings. The wooden beams proceed onto the interior as well, as part of the ceiling, supporting the roof. They are put together in the same curvilinear fashion as vertebrae on a long spinal cord.
Materials used in the construction are original to the place. The walls are made of local stone, built with no joint mortar. The fenestrations are primarily of wood with glass panes, whilst the bamboo for the pergola renders a unique texture and appearance with the fishbone pattern.
The design of the Xerolithi house succeeds at being an absolute response to the context, whilst opening up as much as the indoors to the surroundings, thanks to the sequentially articulated openings and windows. Offering breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea around, the house is definitely a masterpiece, a subtle expression of tradition infused with a contemporary touch.