A triple-dwelling complex
“Ι don’t know much about houses I know they have their own nature, nothing else. [...]When the architect’s finished, they change, they frown or smile or even grow resentful with those who stayed behind, with those who went away with others who’d come back if they could or others who disappeared, now that the world’s become an endless hotel.” Seferis G. The house near the sea

In a rocky promontory of the Mani peninsula, in a plot next to the sea and the village of Agios Nikolaos, a family asked us to design a triple-dwelling complex. The complex would function as a tourist development in the years to come and afterward for their children.

In the northern boundary of the plot towards the sea, a narrow pedestrian bike path connects the two closest settlements developed next to the rocky seafront. Therefore, this unique plot, while it has a view towards the sea and the seascape, also opens towards the north with reduced/diffused natural light, posing a challenge of privacy. Additional strict regulations of the region forced us to build in a narrow area on the southern side of the plot, applying a terracotta sloped roof ceiling in every house, forcing us to design the houses in very close proximity to each other.

In this synthetic process, the rich tradition of Mani architecture played a crucial role regarding the chosen materiality, the relationship with the Mediterranean landscape, the introverted nature of the traditional settlements created by thick perimeter stone walls, and how the houses were gradually developed throughout the last centuries to cover growing functional needs.

Five distinct synthetic gestures guide the final concept proposal:

A podium crafted from locally quarried limestone is elevated 1.2 meters above the ground, responding to the gentle slope of the plot. It establishes a horizontal level for the dwelling, enhancing the view towards the seascape while ensuring privacy from pedestrians in the northern boundary.

Parallel stone walls slide in relation to the plinth, forming the boundary of the dwelling. Inspired by traditional Mani architecture, the wall thickness accommodates necessary service and HVAC zones and offers resources for contemporary living. Additionally, they enhance privacy with surrounding houses.

A thin white concrete ceiling, positioned lower than the parallel stone walls, shapes the indoor and semi outdoor living spaces of each dwelling unit, creating a generously cross-ventilated open area.

A linear courtyard is central to each house, influencing the manipulation of the concrete ceiling as it folds toward the space. This crucial area introduces southern natural light, divides common from private areas, and directs each space toward the Mediterranean landscape.

The repetition of each unit fulfills program requirements, with thick walls serving as an added layer of privacy between each dwelling.

In this proposal, the landscape approach respects the unique surroundings. Local tree species and bushes are chosen to serve as synthetic tools for circulation, increased privacy, and shaded outdoor spaces. Careful material selection ensures efficient project integration into the landscape and budget control and highlights Mani’s architectural legacy. Locally quarried limestone for the podium, stones excavated from the plot for the walls, white concrete with local quarry white aggregates for the ceiling, and walnut wood panels for interior walls, proposed furniture, and installations contribute to this harmonious integration.

Four parallel stone walls, three dwellings, and an expansive Mediterranean landscape form a triptych of Mediterranean living spaces—indoor, outdoor, and semi-outdoor. Drawing inspiration from the rich architectural tradition of Mani, this proposal acknowledges the need for these spaces to meet contemporary demands and embody the spirit of our time, aiming to establish a legacy for future generations. Once again, the sentiments of G. Seferis echo, compelling us to accept that, after the completion of our work, the dwellings will have a life of their own. They will transform from curated spaces into vessels of life, becoming frameworks that create enduring memories for their users.

Location: Mani, Messenia

Architects: P4architecture

Design Team: Alkiviadis Pyliotis, Evangelos Fokialis, Konstantinos Pyliotis, Chara Kaika, Panayiota Kyriakou

3D Visualization: Michalis Meggios

Sculptor of Marble Model: Dousis Marble (Konstantinos Dousis, Panagiotis Vasilakis, Nikolaos Doulos)

Area: 270 m2

Project Year: 2024

Project Type: Commission