by Jerry ElengicalSep 15, 2021
Encased within a small, secluded, stony islet in Greece, Mold Architects unveil their recently completed residence called nCaved, revealing in its form a delightful “chessboard” of solids and voids. nCaved celebrates with its architecture the sloping site it is embedded within, embracing it with rusticity and sophistication. It reveals itself sans an exterior form, as a set of planned volumes occupied and subtracted from the sparse, rugged terrain. Overlooking the serene Serifos Island, the dwelling also features a glistening pool, pocket gardens and austere, stone and timber clad subterranean insides.
Longitudinal walls of sturdy dry stone outline the residential architecture and protects its interior and exterior spaces. They also make up the vertical borders that direct the visitor’s gaze toward the horizon line. The slanting façades aim for lightness, and are made of glass which sit in clear contrast to the solidity of the stone walls, and can open along their entire length. Steps carved from the rock lead up to the living room entrance.
The negative spaces came about when Mold Architects severed and removed parts of the existing rock here. All materials employed for nCaved – stone, exposed concrete, glass, warm toned timber and sleek metal – are treated and finished to precision to create "coarse inner shells" that exude warmth and refined unevenness. “This rough feeling of a natural cavity was what we aimed to recreate with our choice of materials and colour palette,” reiterates the design team.
“The need to create a protected shelter, at a location which is openly exposed to strong winds and with disarming views, led us to the decision to drill the slope, instead of arranging a set of spaces in line at the ground level,” explains the Athens-based practice. A rectangular grid was applied to the incline, to create the three-dimensional play of solids and voids, which simultaneously accommodate and isolate the residential spaces. “This strict geometry is discontinued with the rotation of the last axis of the grid, which provides the living area with ample views and good ventilation. Shifting the axis intensifies the sense of perspective significantly, and thus the imprint of the residence appears minimised at the conceptual end of the ascent,” they continue.
nCaved faces the glitzy, azure waters, its front exposed to the east, and its rear windows framing indoor gardens, which help in enhancing air flow and letting light into the dwelling. “Lighting and ventilation with front and rear openings, the stone that helps regulate temperature, a planted flat roof, suitable insulation, as well as energy-efficient glass panels add to nCaved’s excellent bioclimatic features,” says Iliana Kerestetzi, Founder, Mold Architects and lead architect for this project.
nCaved’s interior design spans three levels encompassing bedrooms, living rooms and a guest house. The first two are linked internally, while the latter has been kept independent. Connecting these three parts is an exterior, “in caved”, white staircase that leads into the main entrance, starting at the beige toned living room loft. These steps go upto to the highest point of the house, flanked by stone walls, and open at each level. As one descends into the house this way, its previously concealed spaces gradually reveal themselves, while framing a two-sided view – “a visual outlet to the sea during the descent, an outlet to the sky during the ascent,” observes Kerestetzi.
Punctured filters on the façade and the floor create shadowy patterns, which when reflected on the mirror and glassy surfaces, produce an almost spooky ambience inside the private areas of the residential design. A wooden, rail-less staircase sits in wonderful contrast to the albino wood clad wall inside the living space, giving access to the spaces beyond. Wooden slats cover most of the vertical surfaces inside nCaved house, along with a mezzanine walkway with a simple metal balustrade that leads into the rooms upstairs.
The bedrooms here are striped back, with the bedding resting atop a raised concrete platform, a sloped ceiling, a wood clad wall to one side and a masonry one to the other. These have a backdrop of pocket gardens with a semi-open sink area, where random rubble stone masonry is reflected in its mirrored backsplash. Another bedroom has an open void with a breathtaking view of the sands and seas, its sliding glass doors opening into a concrete balcony.
The guest room has an unassuming, open plan setting, with the bedding placed in a similar manner as the others. Always in dialogue with the island, several arbitrary patches of space have been sewed in with cushioned seating with views of the same, while a white concrete verandah steps into a rectangular infinity pool that mirrors the sea on the first level.
A minimal black stone island with a stove and sink stands in the kitchen on the ground floor, placed in front of an eight-seater wooden dining table with sunny yellow chairs, a stark contrast to the warm, wooden palette of the rest of the dwelling. Mold Architects also reveal that the ribbed timber pergolas are designed and placed such that they seem afloat, detached from the surface, “denoting the physical aspect of the residence, which integrates to the landscape, yet maintains a dynamic presence,” they mention.
Location: Ag. Sostis, Serifos Island, Greece
Gross area: 360 sqm
Site area: 6,000 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Architect and Interiors: Mold Architects
Lead Architect: Iliana Kerestetzi
Consultant Architect: Manos Kerestetzis
Design Team: Konstantinos Vlachoulis, Michail Xirokostas
Structural Engineer: Studio 265
Mechanical Engineer: TEAM M-H
Lighting Design: Nikos Adrianopoulos
Construction: Mold Architects and Thanos Vittas