Mars Sablé: NCaved House blends into the iron ore soil of Serifos ― 

NCaved House is the latest project by Mold Architects, on Serifos Island. The house is located on a small, secluded rocky cove, seemingly hovering just above sea level. The need to create a protected shelter, at a location of disarming view, but openly exposed to strong north winds, led to the decision to drill the slope, instead of arranging a set of spaces in line at ground level.

A rectangular grid produces a three-dimensional “chessboard” of solids and voids that accommodate and, at the same time, separate the residence quarters. This strict geometry is discontinued with the rotation of the last axis of the grid, which provides the living area with ampler view. Shifting the axis intensifies the sense of perspective significantly, and thus the imprint of the residence appears minimized at the conceptual end of the ascent.

The residence is divided into three levels: bedrooms, living rooms, and a guest house. The first two communicate internally, while the guest house is independent. An in caved staircase connects the three levels externally and leads to the main entrance, located at the living room loft.

The choice to keep the building underground entailed new challenges for its creative integration into the landscape. Caved-in areas are “negative” spaces, resulting from severing and removing part of the rock. This rough feeling of a natural cavity was what the choice of materials and color palette aimed to recreate. Stone, exposed concrete, wood and metal are used with precision to create coarse inner shells.

Longitudinal walls of dry stone outline and protect the interior and exterior spaces. They consist the vertical borders, which lead the visitor’s gaze to the horizon line. In contrast to the sturdy stone walls, the transverse facades are light, made of glass and can open along their entire length. The front is fully open to the east view, while the rear windows frame indoor gardens, enhancing the air flow and letting light into the residence.

Perforated filters on the facades and the floor produce shadow patterns. Paired with large reflective mirror surfaces, they make up an eerie atmosphere in the private areas of the residence. Finally, the pergolas seem to float detached from the surface, denoting the physical aspect of the residence, which integrates to the landscape, yet maintains a dynamic presence.

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.

Lighting and ventilation with front and rear openings, stone, a planted flat roof, suitable insulation, as well as energy-efficient glass panels adds to NCaved excellent bioclimatic features.

Αrchitects: MOLD ARCHITECTS/ Iliana Kerestetzi

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

All images ©Panagiotis Voumvakis, for AkzoNobel