In the Cycladic vernacular, a katoikia is a small house one keeps in the countryside, as opposed to one’s main living house in the town. Borrowing the typology and small scale of these local country homes, OLIAROS’s Katoikia residence is tucked away in a quiet glen, surrounded by mature trees and unspoiled wilderness. A single whitewashed volume appears to be floating amongst the trees, cantilevered over a terrace and pool area. The building’s unusual northern orientation allows for distant sea views and a sense of openness towards the landscape; this also means that the sun hits the interiors less harshly, keeping the temperature cooler during summer months. For the days when it’s windy, sheltered dining and lounging terraces have been carved out of the monolithic white volume, in such a way that each bedroom and the living room have their own well-protected and private outdoor space.
Designed by Basel-based architecture firm Harry Gugger Studio, the simple and unassuming Katoikia residence eschews all excess and decoration, and reinterprets the pure minimalism of traditional Cycladic architecture into a comfortable and efficient contemporary home. Stripping the concept of a holiday home down to its very essence, the design perfectly organises all bedrooms and living spaces within a compact rectilinear volume, that optimises living flow between interior and exterior through its openings and placement of a central staircase. The master bedroom is situated at the very tip of the cantilevered volume, providing the best views both north towards the valley and west to the sea and sunset. Equally stunning sunset views are enjoyed by the dining terrace next to the kitchen, and the shady pool terrace. All auxiliary spaces have been organised on the lower level, with natural light provided by a light well placed in the back of the house. Katoikia is definitely a residence for those who appreciate the luxury of a simple and understated way of living, where seclusion and a close connection to nature are just as important as domestic comfort and intelligent design.
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