This ridged limestone house by Athens studio decaArchitecture faces out over the edge of a cliff on the Greek island of Milos (+ slideshow).
Designed as a holiday home, VNC House nestles into the landscape on the south coast of the island beside a new orchard of olive trees and a stone guesthouse, also designed by decaArchitecture.
"Our office has often dealt with projects in raw rural settings where the natural beauty of the site is the most important contextual element," architect Carlos Loperena told Dezeen. "Therefore, developing a clear landscape strategy from the beginning of the project was important."
"We think of a house as a structure that instead of domesticating the landscape becomes an integral part of it," he added. "We insert the building into the landscape, sometimes punctuating it and other times disappearing in it."
The ridged roof of the main house staggers up like a staircase, following the slope of the land. "The form and material choice of the roof relates to the larger geological formations prevalent on the site," said Loperena. "The inclinations, which extend towards the landscape, are also a way of diminishing the mass of the building."
The two bedrooms and open-plan living room of the house occupy four wings, which branch out to the east and west to frame a series of terraces. An outdoor staircase leads down from the southern terrace to an infinity swimming pool positioned just beyond.
Meanwhile, the guesthouse on the western end of the site is completely submerged below the ground and a ramped courtyard separates the bedroom on one side with the bathroom opposite.
The sides of this small building fold outwards at one end to become the boundary wall of the entire property, preventing wild goats from getting into the vineyards and vegetable beds that are included in the orchard.
We've previously featured another project by decaArchitecture on the nearby Greek island of Antiparos.
Photography is by Ståle Eriksen.
Here's a project description from decaArchitecture:
VNC House in Milos, Greece
The site is a large parcel of land on the southern coast of the island of Milos, Greece. We were invited to design a small vacation home, but instead we interpreted the project as a challenge of designing both a house and a landscape.
The main house is the place where the raw qualities of the site are felt. The panorama opens to an undisturbed horizon and to a ragged coastline of chalk-like rock. These geological formations slope downwards and become steep cliffs as they reach the sea.
The building makes no allusion to a vernacular past but to the primitive forms which exist on site. The volume’s extremities slope in different gradients following the inclination of the rocky outcrops and the direction of the views.
The entire volume itself is shaped by the stacking, coursing and stepping of long limestone blocks. This limestone shell provides thermal protection and, like the cliffs, ages naturally over long periods of time.
An orchard of 550 olive trees was planted along with grape vines, vegetables and aromatic herbs. The vegetation is protected from wild goats with a winding stone wall of over 700 meters in length.
As the topography slopes downwards towards the sea, the stone wall increases in height to reveal the façade of a guest house which is otherwise hidden from view by the olive field above it.
The field is only interrupted by an incision in the ground, creating a small public space that can be transformed by sliding panels. The glass panels disappear into the walls to blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor life.
The guest house is just an inhabited retaining wall in the landscape and in that sense is purely part of it.
Above: site plan - click above for larger image
Above: main house isonometric plan - click above for larger image
Above: main house isonometric diagram
Above: guesthouse isonometric plan - click above for larger image
Above: guesthouse isonometric diagram