The present study deals with the design of a small weekend house in the village of Polydrosos, Fokida, Greece. The main aim set in this project has been the design of the house in such a way so as to be able to cover the basic needs of a family consisting of two parents and three children, during their periodic short living in the countryside. From the beginning, the very small available site, a narrow strip of land just 5 metres in width and approximately 20 metres in length, imposed several difficulties and constraints as regards the way in which the building would be developed.
The building has not been conceived merely as a single, isolated construction, but rather as a cohesive building structure. In fact, the whole site has been configured as a linear spatial structure emulating a rectangular prism which has been transformed in order to render a hospitable form, suitable to provide residency. The rectangular plan of the house is divided into two equally sized general functional zones, both of which are vital, in order for the residence to function properly.
The first zone occupies the northern part of the site, accommodating the courtyard, an open space, lifted higher from ground level and serving both as a common space for interaction and contemplation, as well as an in-between entrance space, a threshold. The building structure has been transformed in order for protection against the northern winds to be provided to the courtyard from surrounding tall walls, while at the same time permitting an unobstructed view to the fields lying to the south of the village. In the same functional zone, underground auxiliary spaces have been created under the raised courtyard, taking advantage of the sloping ground.
The second zone is positioned to the southern half of the site, forming the core of the house, a two-storey volume, covered by a double pitched roof and “looking” to the courtyard through a tall, transparent glass surface. This zone houses all the main living spaces, divided into three different levels which are accessible by a staircase. The bedrooms are accommodated in the basement as well as the upper floor which is formed by a light wooden structure, while the common areas, such as the kitchen, the dining room and the living room, are at entrance level.
From a morphological point of view, in order for an undisturbed relation between the external form of the small house and the picture of its surroundings to be achieved, it has been decided the use of local stone as the basic structural material, a building method which is unfortunately rarely used in contemporary architecture nowadays. The systematic use of horizontal and vertical zones of reinforced concrete in combination with the load bearing stone walls not only has greatly improved the anti-seismic behaviour of the building, but more importantly has permitted the use of large openings in the walls, thus making the stone structure more flexible and adaptable to contemporary morphological experimentations. In the end, this mixed structural system of stone and reinforced concrete seems, despite its simplicity, to be offering a freedom, the potential of experimentation as well as further morphological flexibility, while at the same time achieving to convey a sense of transparency, structural clarity and a spirit of rationalism.
Location: Polydrosos, Fokida, Greece
Architectural Design: Panagiotis Zakkas, Architect
Project Year: 2008
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