New South Wales, Australia
James Stockwell Architect
Photography Tom Ross
BUT IS IT ART?
O Lofos, Crete
Sotiris Tsergas, Katja Margaritoglou, Francesca Balfoussia, Michalis Grylakis, Christina Kontou, Yannis Mantzaris, Sofia Badeka, Eva Dimoula, Danai Lazaridi, Aristea Topizopoulou
The green, wild Cretan landscape and the richness and heritage of traditional crafts define this new, thoroughly contemporary residential design by Block722. Located on the northern foothills of Thrypti mountain on the island’s eastern side, the project is a commission by a private client. It called for a 280 sq m home on a slope, including two guestrooms and generous outdoors areas.
Balancing the needs of the brief with the natural setting that combines vistas of mountains, plains, and the Mediterranean Sea, was critical in the architects’ design solution. The architecture was driven by desire to create a modern house that is discreet and respectful to its surroundings. Negotiating the site’s angle through levels instead of steps was also critical in moulding a relaxing environment that embraces its setting.
A path down a slope from the main road leads visitors to the residence’s entrance. The complex’s size is cleverly broken down into smaller volumes, which are interconnected through circulation routes and in-between spaces – some indoors and some open-air. The main home is divided into two low buildings linked by a semi-enclosed area with a water feature. The design merges natural materials that are often used in the local vernacular, such as wood and stone.
At the same time, the atmosphere is distinctly contemporary, blending Block722’s inherent Scandinavian sensibility and organic minimalism with Japanese architecture influences. This nod to Japan unfolds through the design’s refreshing simplicity of clean, almost austere lines that balance the materials’ natural, tactile nature and the overall craft-rich approach.
The powerful Greek sunlight helps define shapes and surfaces, playing with the textured materials, as the architects drew on the feel and rhythm of the context for both interiors and exteriors. The journey of light and the clients’ habits throughout the day led the spatial arrangement inside. Each section and route are carefully planned to support functionality and frame vistas, through visual journeys and spatial narratives that blend inside and outside, the natural and the human made. The design seeks to enhance slow living, taking its cues from the island’s lifestyle.
Block722 collaborated with local craftsmen throughout the construction, applying expert manufacturing skills to a large array of elements in the house. This applies to both high-end architectural details and furniture pieces, the majority of which are bespoke and created specifically with this project in mind, using marble, wood, stone, and terrazzo. All the pieces together form Block722’s ANATA furniture collection. This approach, rich in artistry and locally sourced, natural materials, elevates the design into a truly custom-made residential gem. Neutral, earthy colours dominate, and quality is prioritised over quantity.
Artwork was also important in the overall composition and the project now holds an impressive 2.8 x 1.5m sculpture by Greek artist Pantelis Chandris. The specially commissioned art piece, sits in the living room, and was developed in parallel to the architectural design, beautifully displaying the retreat’s perfect marriage of scales and disciplines.
Photography Yiorgos Kordakis
Taking its cues from the landscape around it, Villa Apollon by Block722 sits on the southern edge of the Greek island of Lefkada. The project, completed in early 2021, effortlessly merges contemporary architecture with nature, making the most of its context, while respecting its green surroundings.
Block722 architects were called to create a private holiday home, joined by a separate structure that houses four guest rooms. The plot is located on a cliffside overlooking the blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Entering the site from the topmost side, visitors are guided down to the main house via a wide ramp. From there, a series of paved terraces and a narrow, natural path lead to a small, secluded rocky beach below.
The site’s inclination was a challenge not only in construction logistics, but in design terms too. In order to navigate the steep slope, remain discreet and take advantage of the long views, Block722 created a house that is partially submerged into the earth. The architecture follows the natural topographic lines, which eventually defined the plan and roofline. This not only ensures the arrangement fits seamlessly and respectfully within.
Bringing Back Minimalism in Waterfront House
Just north of the bustling city center of Copenhagen, Norm Architects has carried out a full renovation of a private family home overlooking the water and a grand marina. With a focus on bringing out the house’s inherent modernist qualities and putting it on display, the home is now a calm refuge of clean lines and natural materials to retreat to in a busy everyday life.