Mars Sable: Vacation house in Serifos ― 

In Serifos island, Greece, Mold Architects constructed an award-winning vacation house; their design research integrated the building in its natural and cultural landscape, prescribing suitable forms, materials, color and vegetation.

The rocky slopes of the Cycladic landscape are dominated by the image of a complex longitudinal dry stonewalling, whose function is to hold in the precious soil on the terraces formed therein. The house has been designed as a composite “terrace” on a steep slope. The dry stonewalling here is transformed into a compositional tool which defines the enclosed spaces, shapes the courtyards, provides protection from the northern winds, and frames the view, creating a complex weave of interior and exterior spaces, in sequence with the natural flow of the slope.

The new building’s integration is further strengthened with the choice of color. The island landscape of Serifos is arid, dominated by reddish rock hues due to the iron ore present in the terrain. The oxidised IPE beams which were chosen for the construction of the shades, as well as other metal components, were painted with AkzoNobel double powder coating, to ensure resilience to the harsh environmental conditions (wind, salt, humidity) due to the proximity of the project to the sea.  The color chosen was the superdurable Mars Sable powder coating, from AkzoNobel Futura Collection. The tonality and texture of the color is reminiscent of rust, evoking a sensation intertwined with the island’s iron ore mining history. AkzoNobel’s color alludes to the red, rocky terrain of the planet Mars; it became the ideal choice of coating, because of its certified resistance to weathering and because of its smooth combination with the local stone, dominating the building’s materiality and its surrounding landscape.

The use of local stone and iron aims at the smooth integration of the house in the slope. This logic is reinforced by the creation of caved-in spaces, covered under roofs where edible plants grow. These, together with the olive-trees, the oleanders, and the bougainvillea which grow in the surrounding area, contribute to the visual continuation of the landscape.

Importance was attached to the creation of differing qualities of exterior spaces, given that life on the island is largely lived in the open air. Roofed, enclosed, and sheltered areas are distinct, whereas others are free, exposed to the sun and the wind. All of them communicate with one another, thus composing the route down to the sea.

Another reality to which the design of the house had to respond is the strict terms of building which prevail in the islands of the Cyclades. The height of buildings must not exceed one storey, the consolidation of all the premises into one compact mass is mandatory, while large apertures and cantilevers are prohibited.

The composition of the enclosed spaces was carried out with the typology of traditional Cycladic dwellings (known as katikiés), in which spaces of small dimensions, frequently of an irregular shape, are laid out in a row, with scope for later additions, as a criterion.

The house has been acclaimed with many awards, among which, the Prize for “Best first building by a young architect of the years 2009-2013” at DOMES 2014 awards, “Best Residential Project for 2009-2013” at the SADAS-PEA 2014 Award and was further nominated at the Mies van Der Rohe Award 2015 and the Piranesi Award 2015.

Αrchitects: MOLD ARCHITECTS/ Iliana Kerestetzi

Color: Mars D2525 Sable, Futura Collection / Code: YX355F

Project Architect: Iliana Kerestetzi

Design team: Maria Vrettou, Richard Rubin, Katerina Daskalaki, Fotis Zapantiotis

Structural engineering:  Panayotis Poniridis

Mechanical& Electrical engineering :TEAM M-H

Bioclimatic design: LYSIS

Acoustics design: ABAS A.E

Lighting design: IFI group


Site Area:  6.000m²

Total surface:  300m²

Design Date: 2012

Completion Date: 2013