House in Volax ― 

A landscape that looks almost otherworldly, lunar. Spherical volcanic rocks form the backdrop for the village of Volax on the island of Tinos, perhaps the most authentic location on the island, unique not just in the Cyclades, but in the entire world. This was the setting that architect Aristides Dallas had to work in for his project “House in Volax”. A challenging project that was recognized at the 8th Biennale for Young Architects.

The building’s design achieved its most important objective – it is flawlessly integrated into the surrounding environment without disrupting it; on the contrary, it stands as a complementary element to the image of Volax. The residence is comprised of three units distributed around spherical rocks, with an atrium in the middle. The three buildings that house the residence’s basic operations differ in height, dimensions and materials. The most interesting and fundamental feature of the architect’s design is the anarchic location of the volumes, so that phenomenally each section appears to have been freely placed in space, as if it fell from the sky and simply landed there – which is what actually happened with the volcanic rocks dotted all around Volax. “With our sole limitations being spatial orientation and the protection of the existing, random organization of the surrounding landscape, our objective was to harmonize the residence with this landscape, not just in respect to the new, built space but also in respect to the space and relationship between them,” the architect noted tellingly in an older publication.

The northern aspect of the residence is quite distinct, as a volume of visible, unpainted concrete creates a “barrier”, an artificial protection against the northern wind. The choice of this materiality creates a parallel to the rocks; over time, when the multicolored aggregates inside the concrete rise to the surface, it will become perfectly incorporated into the landscape. The choice of form, a long and narrow oblong, highlights the “volakes”, the volcanic rocks, by underlining them and throwing their spherical shape into sharp relief against the building’s linearity. Inside, the harsh exterior “cracks” and becomes “transparent”, allowing the interior to merge with the exterior. In this way, the limits between inside and outside become blurred, and the interior extends all the way to the cluster of rocks at the back of the property facing the village.

When architecture succeeds in subjecting itself so masterfully to the natural landscape and at the same time offering the best implementation solution, then we must bow down to its genius.

Architect: Aristides Dallas
Location: Tinos, Greece
Year of construction: 2015
© Photo credit: Panagiotis Voumvakis

Color: Noir 2200 Sable AkzoNobel
Color Code: YW360F