hang ten

A well-bal­anced wind­surfers’ es­cape in Karpathos

Wallpaper - - Architecture - Pho­tog­ra­phy: yor­gos Kor­dakis Writer: el­lie stathaki

The world map through a surfer’s eyes is a con­stel­la­tion of per­fect swells, beach ge­ol­ogy and wind. Surf en­thu­si­asts tend to grav­i­tate to­wards very par­tic­u­lar spots, even spe­cific parts within a sin­gle beach. And there are the well-known surfer haunts – western France’s Biar­ritz even has its own mu­seum for surf­ing, de­signed by Steven Holl (see W*146) – and the lesser-known. Karpathos, in Greece, def­i­nitely be­longs to the lat­ter cat­e­gory; the Aegean’s swell deficit means surf­ing here is en­tirely wind as­sisted.

The is­land, a three-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from the pop­u­lar port of Rhodes, had long been a hid­den gem, its pris­tine beaches largely un­known to the in­ter­na­tional tourist trail till about a decade ago. Now, this rocky out­crop is slowly start­ing to be­come a global wind­surf­ing hotspot. A Paris-based pair of wind­surf­ing afi­ciona­dos – a Swede and a French­man – and their two chil­dren were way ahead of the curve when they started com­ing to Karpathos with their boards back in 2004.

Dream­ing of a more per­ma­nent base on the is­land, they started look­ing for the per­fect spot to build their fam­ily get­away. They found it through their friend, owner of the lo­cal surf sta­tion, Mano­lis Krit­si­o­tis, in the bay of Afi­arti, known for its strong sum­mer winds and loyal and lively surf­ing com­mu­nity. The site, a steep lot split into two lev­els, over­look­ing a rocky cove, ticked all the boxes and they shook hands on it im­me­di­ately.

They ap­proached Stock­holm-based prac­tice OOAK, hav­ing found it on­line. Its three di­rec­tors, Maria Pa­pafigou,»

‘We had the free­dom to cre­ate some­thing un­like any­thing the clients had imag­ined’

Marie Ko­jzar and Jo­han An­ner­hed, of­fered the ideal mix of in­ter­na­tional ap­proach, mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural style and lo­cal knowl­edge (Pa­pafigou is Greek). Their start­ing point was the ‘sparse, un­tamed and dra­matic land­scape’, say the trio.

‘The ques­tion be­came how to in­tro­duce a for­eign ob­ject – a house – into this spec­tac­u­lar land­scape, en­hanc­ing its qual­i­ties with­out al­ter­ing its char­ac­ter,’ says Pa­pafigou. ‘Rather than try­ing to mimic the land­scape, the house is gen­tly placed on the site as an ob­ject, leav­ing the sur­round­ings as un­touched as pos­si­ble. Land­scape and build­ing are per­ceived as two dis­tinct el­e­ments that to­gether cre­ate a new en­tity – much in the way a per­fect shell fuses with a rock over time and grad­u­ally be­comes part of the rock for­ma­tion.’

The brief out­lined a sum­mer re­treat with three be­d­rooms and a guest room, as well as liv­ing spa­ces and stor­age ar­eas for all the own­ers’ surf­boards and re­lated kit. An open­ing at the heart of the house serves as a hub for med­i­ta­tion, yoga and karate prac­tice, and of­fers an out­door space that re­mains shel­tered even dur­ing the re­gion’s very strong gales. A ter­race is lo­cated on the more pro­tected lower plateau of the site, con­nected to the house via a se­ries of ex­ter­nal steps. The main struc­ture, made mostly of cast-in-situ con­crete, spreads across the up­per level and can­tilevers over the cliff, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the views to the sea. A se­ries of ‘voids’ through­out the lay­out strength­ens the con­nec­tion be­tween in­side and out.

‘Karpathos does not have the strong build­ing reg­u­la­tions most other Greek is­lands have. This gave us the chance to rein­ter­pret what a Greek hol­i­day house can be,’ says An­ner­hed. A stark, rather enig­matic, street façade with a big wooden door leads to steps down to the cen­tral court­yard, of­fer­ing ac­cess to all the dif­fer­ent parts of the house. Views to­wards the wa­ter are care­fully con­trolled through­out. Open­ings build up to the large

‘We were in­spired by the use of colour in tra­di­tional Greek houses’

pic­ture win­dow that frames the blue of the Aegean Sea and dom­i­nates the liv­ing room.

The gen­er­ous open-plan liv­ing space takes up most of the main level, where the three be­d­rooms are also lo­cated. A smaller up­per floor hosts the guest suite. Nat­u­ral oak lines the win­dows, peach pine was used for the shut­ters, and river gravel cov­ers the roof. Lo­cal stone was em­ployed for the paving and re­tain­ing walls, cre­at­ing a ma­te­rial com­po­si­tion that con­trasts rough and smooth, nat­u­ral and man­made. Stronger colours are used as ac­cents. ‘We were in­spired by the use of colour in tra­di­tional Greek houses,’ ex­plains An­ner­hed. So, for ex­am­ple, the kitchen is green, the sofa is petrol blue, and dif­fer­ent Greek mar­bles add tex­ture around the house. All the in­te­ri­ors were com­posed by OOAK, in­clud­ing the fur­ni­ture se­lec­tion; the liv­ing room sofa, all din­ing ta­bles, the sofa ta­ble, beds, desks, kitchen, and more, are all be­spoke.

Sea, sun and con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture con­verge in this one-of-a-kind hol­i­day home. And the best part? ‘We had a unique con­nec­tion with the client, there was an im­me­di­ate and mu­tual trust,’ says Pa­pafigou. ‘We shared a fas­ci­na­tion for the land­scape, and the view of an ideal life around na­ture and sim­ple things. We felt the same ex­cite­ment about cre­at­ing some­thing spe­cial. This gave us the free­dom to cre­ate some­thing un­like any­thing they had imag­ined.’

below, the guest suite is set on the up­per level, look­ing out over the Roof, lined with River gravel

Right, the open-air din­ing area off the kitchen frames views of the aegean and typ­i­fies the house’s con­nec­tion be­tween in­side and out

below, a door off the cen­tral court­yard Leads to steps down to the Lower ter­race and draws guests in with a glimpse through to the sea

Left, the be­spoke kitchen serves as one of var­i­ous colour ac­cents through­out

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