To create a house that would allow guests to enjoy being outside throughout the day we needed to filter the overwhelming intensity of the climate by providing shade and protection from the elements. And although the house needed to accommodate a large number of guests we didn’t want to dominate the landscape with oversized volumes. Inspired by the humble complexity of the traditional island vernacular we reduced the architecture to 2 small traditionally whitewashed volumes and a third of stone dug from the site, built around a large ‘courtyard’ living area which is covered by an expansive but lightweight chestnut pergola. This courtyard becomes the focal point of the house, seamlessly connected to the living room and kitchen volumes and looking over the pool and gardens beyond. Beneath the pool garden are the private bedrooms, separated for privacy and quietly enjoying the uninterrupted view over the lower garden to the sea. Their separation further reduces the overall impact of the house and cleanly divides social and private space.
Key to the character of the house is the palette of traditional materials such as lime-wash, stone and wood that have been applied and engineered with contemporary techniques to create un-nostalgic architecture that bridges heritage and locality with contemporary life. Hand-built stone walls are sharply confident; traditionally rendered, round-edged volumes are perfectly flat and smooth. The customary chestnut pergola has been engineered to increase its structural integrity, to form a glue-lam beam lattice that sits lightly on the white volumes, shading and protecting the extensive courtyard beneath.
The simple white volumes, straight stone walls and light pergola planes sit comfortably in the Cycladic landscape and the efficiency of their layout, centred around the courtyard living space, streamlines daily life. Villa Mandra is informed by humble Cycladic tradition, enriched by natural materiality and inspired by contemporary summer living.