Earth Sheltered Summer Houses on the Greek Island of Paros
Stairs descend down between newly created earth roofs, to the communal dining area between a pair of summer houses overlooking the sea and neighboring island of Antiparos.
Atop these houses from React Architects, the rhythm of the white retaining walls punctuates the earth sheltered rooftop gardens – creating a series of platforms to the sea.
The ancient local vernacular of Cycladic architecture is referenced by the white columns against the blue sky, a familiar archetypal form.
The intense light and shadows transform the front of the summer houses into a simple viewing platform of the ancient sea.
The slope of the land is concealed by the wall, only the stairs follow it down.
For energy efficiency, the upper part of the house is partly earth sheltered into the hill.
This walled roof garden on the hill side creates privacy for the diners at the back of the house – where leaving the slope of the hill would not have.
In an intriguing reversal of typical layouts, the dining and living and public spaces are away from the sea views.
These are private, facing back into the enclosed private courtyard.
While the bedrooms and guest houses each get a personal view of the ocean.
Archetypal white columns separate the edges of each of the bedrooms of the guest houses overlooking the viewing platform.
The dramatic wide stairs create the large viewing “plateaus” that seem almost like a stage set.
Although it is unusual, the idea makes a lot of sense.
The enclosed public spaces to the back encourage the conviviality of personal connections without the distraction of the infinite horizon.
While, by contrast, the infinite horizons of the ocean encourage the introspection that can only be truly experienced deeply in solitude.