by Jerry ElengicalFeb 15, 2023
Alaçati Stone House is the 2022 venture of Erdem Hamza Architecture, a firm specialising in architectural renovation and interior design. As a city, on the western coast of Izmir in Turkey, Alaçatican traces its roots all the way back to the 17th century, as a Greek settlement. Today it is notable for its narrow streets and ancient stone architecture with enclosed balcony areas and alcove windows. The city has hot summers and cold and wet winters and is known for its strong and constant wind, which would also explain the use of thick stone walls in its traditional architecture.
Alaçati means old and wild olive tree in the Turkish language, which is appropriate considering the city is known for its olive trees and the traditional methods for olive oil extraction. The Alaçati Stone House initially was a place for the same practice. As part of their overall design approach to turn this historic building into a residential dwelling, Erdem Hamza Architecture attempted to stay true to the traditional architectural elements and function of the house.
Revitalising the ambience within the aged stone walls, the spaces within the building are designed to foster tranquillity. The project comprises a typical residential design centred around a garden, like many courtyard homes, integrating expansive outdoor spaces with enclosed ones. As is the case with many traditional houses in Turkey, the fluid transition from outdoor to indoor spaces creates a natural, unrestricted, and smooth layout that encourages exploration as one moves throughout the house. The building comprises a ground floor featuring the kitchen, three bedrooms and a workspace; and a first floor featuring the living room, indoor dining area and another bedroom.
The ground floor is simply an extension of the garden, and it is hard to separate where the garden ends and where the indoor spaces begin. The kitchen opens to the outdoor dining area where the residents can enjoy long months of agreeable weather and it creates a constant connection with the pool area in the garden so that the movement is facilitated between the kitchen and the pool. The entrance to the ground floor features many doors, one opening to the kitchen, one in each room and two that open to a distinguished hall that provides more privacy to the bedrooms. However, even though all the bedrooms have their own bathrooms, the lack of a service toilet for guests is perhaps a shortcoming in the design.
The pool design is in the shape of a curved L and features stone walls around it in the tradition of many Islamic architecture that puts extra emphasis on privacy. The walls add cosiness and a sense of intimacy to the area. The reflection of the trees and the sky on the green of the pool creates a mesmerising visual dynamism in the pool. Apart from the communal areas around the garden there are crevices and corners with furniture and means designed for the purpose of those who seek solitude.
Venturing into interior design, one encounters the use of authentic raw colour tones. The design has strived to maintain a connection between the exterior facade and the interior surfaces with the same architectural and material elements. In the interior spaces, the architects have created the modern needs of the residents by reinventing the old elements of the house. The holistic design of the space is observable in the landscape design and interior design, and the choice of earthly coloured materials. As in the pool, in the interior spaces, the play of light and shadow is a particular and significant visual element in the design.
The kitchen is a combination between rustic and modern. The mix of the stone countertop with the smooth wooden cabinets is a bold choice that has worked well for the design. The kitchen has all the requirements needed in a modern house and yet it is a modest space, carrying silently the historical authenticity of the establishment.
On the first floor we reach through a beautifully narrow staircase design, where we encounter the living room, complemented with an indoor dining area that sits in a higher ground that is separated by a few steps from the living room. The first floor is also a mix of soft and raw materials. Soft and smooth white walls are interrupted by rough patches of stone creating a multisensory experience. The living room is made intimate by the earthly colours, choice of furniture and stone alcoves of the windows and the fireplace. The ceiling made of wood beams also contributes to this. Here the distance from the kitchen to the dining area becomes significant as there is no small kitchenette or alternative solution designed to facilitate the traverse from the kitchen downstairs.
The bedroom designs are cosy but breathable. The omnipresent stone wall occupies one wall but its juxtaposition with the wooden beams of the ceiling and the smooth surface of the other walls takes away the oppression of stone and creates fluidity between the walls.
The earthy colours mixed with the bold dark green on the tiles of the bathrooms create a mesmerising colour palette for these spaces in the house. The lines of the tub and the sink and all the other elements are smooth as if not to disturb the calm of the space. The general composition of the bathrooms creates a true mental space for self-care in terms of colour and form.
The furniture utilised in the project has also been meticulously designed by Erdem Hamza Architecture firm. The choice of earthly colours, significant use of wood, warm tones and modern simplicity go a long way to create the serenity and tranquillity the architects strived for.
Single-point perspectives, elongated direct lines, and stone structures that frame mesmerising scenery are visual elements that have been incorporated by the architects. The play of light and shadow through the stone alcoves and the plants brings life and dynamism to the otherwise monotone colours and forms of the interior space. The Alaçati Stone House is residential architecture as visual poetry. The home, with its earthy colours, is a multisensory venture to preserve and remain authentic to its history.
Name: Alaçati Stone House
Location: Alaçati, Izmir, Turkey
Area: 513 sqm
Year of completion: 2022
Architect: Erdem Hamza Architecture