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Monday, October 7, 2019

The NEW Greek Architecture

Daring Greek Minimalist home by architect, Pavlos Chatziangelidis
located in the outskirt hills of Athens.
When we speak of Greek architecture we picture the Parthenon, crowning the brink of the Acropolis in Athens, or the neighboring Erechtheum with its sculpted maidens supporting the roof of the temple, or perhaps the largely intact ancient temple of Neptune with its stately Doric columns at Paestum (which is not actually in Greece, but in Italy) Yet if you should travel to Athens, Greece, you would find few if any modern-day structures built in the classic Greek style. Innovative architectural design seems to run in the Greek lifeblood as surely as baklava, olives, or feta cheese. However the manifestations of today's Greek architectural looks nothing at all like the imitation Greek styles we see everywhere in cities around the world except in Greece. It would surprise many to realize that contemporary Greek architects have embraced (of all things) Minimalism.
Chatziangelidis' H3 bears virtually all the marks of modern Minimalism from pure, white, cantilevered, reinforced concrete to the use of the obligatory swimming pool in providing eye-catching reflections.  
Minimalism is, of course, not limited to the Greeks. In fact its roots date back at least as far as the 1950s and the groundbreaking designs of German architect Mies Van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen (of Finland), and the American Philip Johnson, all of whom were influenced to varying degrees by Frank Lloyd Wright. Yet Minimalism has come a long way from the days of Wright's Fallingwater or Johnson's glass house. Innovations in construction materials and techniques have propelled the "Bauhaus box" seen in the earliest Minimalist designs, to the glistening cantilevered masses seen in Chatziangelidis' (don't even try to pronounce that name) amazing H3 house near Athens (top). Rather than present another general overview of today's Minimalism I've chosen to highlight a single, outstanding example of the work from the Athens-based 314 Architecture Studio (above).
Viewed from virtually every angle, H3 consistently surprises and invites awe.
In reviewing dozens of other prime examples of Minimalist domestic architecture, this one stood apart from the others. For many Minimalism is not an easy style to admire. Minimalist works are often accused (albeit with some justification) of being cold, harsh, barren, simplistic, and just plain bland. H3 may embody some of those traits but the house also bears descriptive adjectives like daring, exciting, graceful, uncomplicated, and spirited while at the same time being of eco-friendly materials and bioclimatic in design (cool in the summer, warm in the winter). The design allows the sun to warm up cold places in the winter and in the summer months to cool down other places as ventilation blows the hot air out.
The concrete and stone bench by the pool reflects back the reversed
angles and masses of the house itself.
Taking a closer look we find all the hallmark traits of Minimalist housing design. Minimalist architects love reinforced concrete and structural steel. They are completely enamored with white (often white on white). They've never met an oblique angle they didn't like. Yet they are just as likely to warmly embrace biomorphic shapes and features (though H3 is notably lacking in this aspect). Minimalism governs the interior d├ęcor (or lack of it) right down to custom built Minimalist furnishings, art, and floor coverings. Forget curtains. For those seeking privacy, windows are sometimes outfitted with discretely hidden shutters or blinds. Very often though, as with H3, such niceties are eschewed in favor of unlimited scenic views or the breaking down of the walls separating interior and exterior environments.
Neat, clean, simple yet luxurious, convenient, and comfortable .
At 1,000 sq. meters (10,764 sq. feet) H3 is larger than most Minimalist homes. The house consists of three separate levels with a design objective to create a luxurious and ergonomic environment with clean lines and minimalist aesthetic. Located on a plot of 7000 sq, meters plot, the house was designed to give a sense of contact with the water element inspired by the owners' love for yachts. The contact of the house and the artificial ponds that surround it, create a cooling sensation. The water for the lakes and the pool comes from a well, while the water demand for irrigation comes from a tank in which rainwater is collected through a drainage system. (Greece has a fairly dry climate.)
The rectilinear pool juts first one way, then the other and is blessed by a much-needed extended roof span providing refuge from the hot Grecian sun.
A study of the H3 floor plans (even they are minimalist) brings to light what even the most dramatic photos fail to exhibit. The three levels are accessed by traditional stairs as well as a hydraulic elevator. The basement level (directly below) consists of a five-stall parking garage, a squash court, laundry, sauna, gym, and two guest suites (or possibly servants' quarters). The elevator is marked by a boxed "X."

The two "bars"( just abov)e mark the foundations of the pylons supporting the cantilevered sleeping area.
The ground level (below) features a spacious living room, dining area, and kitchen built over much of the pool (in blue). The outdoor area features a tremendous expanse of wooden deck (as opposed to barefoot-burning concrete). Unmarked rectangles are spaces reserved for utilities and storage (of all thing not lending themselves to Minimalism). Textured areas are grass.
The main entrance is via a stepping-stone footbridge crossing the pool
to an inviting outdoor foyer.
The upper level (below) consists of two singles bedrooms with individual bathrooms, and the master suite at the far end of the jutting concrete cantilever. A long corridor with one sloping wall runs the entire length of the bedroom wing.
The bedroom wing, though appearing to overhang the pool actually
provides shade for the pool deck below.

The use of geothermal energy saves energy for the cooling and heating systems. The rooms are covered with spiral that, in conjunction with the solar panels on the rear side of the plot, heat the pool water. Photovoltaic panels have been fitted at the rear side of the plot for the production of electric power. The architecture, the construction materials, and the tech-nologies employed, all contribute to the dynamic architecture of this exquisite example of contemporary Minimalism.
Though obviously 21st century in all design, and
construction aspects, one is tempted to consider
H3 to be of the 22nd century.


For more on this remarkable house go to:


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