Vert 2300 Sable: Olive Tree House ― 

Called to design a very small summer house in Halkidiki, Greece, the architect Eva Sopeoglou created an experimental pavilion where the custom powder-coated structural components emulate the colors and textures of the surrounding olive trees, through a fascinating game of shadows.

The client brief called for a low maintenance weekend home located on a pristine olive grove hill overlooking the sea. This dwelling acts as an escape from the buildings and the city by celebrating the play of light and shadow, texture and color. It offers a connection to nature and the elements and one approach to achieve this was through the use of color.

As the sun moves during the course of the day, the interior spaces are filled with ever-changing shadows. The rectangular plan is sub-divided into smaller rooms. Because of the building’s aligned orientation to the cardinal points each elevation and each room have their own character, derived from the quality and intensity of its shadows. The east sends colourful shadows in the mornings while the southern direct sun in the midday dissolves the metallic cladding, creating a dramatic light effect in the main space.

The exterior envelope is a lightweight metallic surface which wraps around, and it is movable, providing maximum flexibility. The envelope’s perforated textile-like pattern is inspired by the shade of the olive trees. All metal parts are coated in Interpon D2525, Vert 2300 Sablé, an exceptional color reminiscent of the special silver-green colors and textures of olive tree leaves. This series of ultra-durable powder coatings with a sand-blasted aspect (Sable), intended for use on architectural aluminium and galvanized steel, provides excellent levels of weathering resistance (5 years Test Florida) : the series offers significantly higher gloss retention and resistance to colour change, combined with maximum film integrity, to ensure long term cosmetic and functional protection.

Small openings on the exterior panels mimic the leaves of the olive tree. The design is innovative because most perforated metal surfaces are two-dimensional, but here the surface has texture. The panels where machine perforated, then partly CNC-folded and also hand-folded to produce a three-dimensional texture.

Each panel used a single sheet of galvanised metal with minimum wasted material, which received a powder-coat paint finish. The building is camouflaged with green coloration. The panels’ dusty green matches the color palette of the site’s predominant green and blue hues.

The avoidance of white especially in the walls was deliberate; on the one hand, to escape the ‘default’ colour associated with global modernism but also the reference to solid walls. The effect sought was the opposite of a ‘solid white wall’, the structure referring to a tent more than to a building. White also bears reference to the typical Aegean Cycladic architecture, however, this house is on the mainland in the North part of Greece, not the islands.

As if lined with fabric, the green-colored panels appear on both interior and exterior. Each exterior side of the painted cladding has quickly acquired a distinct patina due to weathering effects and orientation, its exposure to the sun, wind and salty mist.

Colour is not only applied as surface ornament but as playful light and shadow configuration, filtered through small openings high on the eastern facade of The Olive Tree House. The colours of mostly reds, purples and yellows were chosen to juxtapose and contrast to the natural hues of mostly blue and green found in the surrounding landscape. As the sun moves, coloured shadows will overlap each other, and the projected coloration will change.

This building forms part of an enquiry into sustainability and the provision for human comfort in architecture, by questioning the definition of inside and outside inhabitable space. There is a level of poetry to the design and so living in a poetic meaningful way is central to the concept of comfort.

Location: Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

Design 2011-2012, completion 2016

Architect: Eva Sopeoglou

Metal fabricator: METALSO

Metal powder coating: Vert 2300 Sable, YW362F

Photos: Mariana Bisti