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Kapsimalis Architects Create Summer Villas Out Of Caves In Santorini

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Two Residences in Fira
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On the vibrant Greek island of Santorini, the underground cave-like forms of an old home have been transformed into ‘Two Residences in Fira’, a pair of holiday homes by local firm Kapsimalis Architects.

As the project’s title suggests, the villas are located in Fira, Santorini’s main village; a sprawling and undeniably picturesque town packed in at the edge of the caldera. Here, restaurants, cafes, bars, and patios all boast panoramic views of the geometric, whitewashed buildings and the pristine Aegean Sea. The holiday homes are positioned in the midst of this site, taking advantage of their scenic location close to the cliff’s edge. One of the new summer houses sits within the converted caves, and the other occupies the floorplan of the original house. As is architectural tradition in Santorini, the exterior facade was kept in its original condition, so as to not disrupt the all-white aesthetic of neighboring homes. “The outer shell of both houses, bright and white, is preserved as it was, in a way that is integrated with the cubistic, traditional architecture of the village,” explains the architects. Access to the first home is through an angular courtyard with a long and narrow pool, with a staircase leading up to a rooftop lounge area. The second holiday home has its own rectangular courtyard with a patio and vaulted pool beneath the staircase.

Inside the villas, earthy color palettes and furnishings were chosen to reflect the preservation of the caves, with minimal furniture made by local craftsmen. “Emphasis was placed on the sculptural, primitive nature of the homes,” explain the architects. “The purpose of the design was to create a natural, rustic space that reminds us of the way of living in the old days of the island, with a classy and eccentric twist,” they continue. ‘Two Residences in Fira’ is a striking example of the way architecture can experiment with design possibilities in compact spaces, where, despite limited openings or a lack of natural light inside, clever homes can be developed that elicit a warm and inviting atmosphere.

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All images © Yiorgos Kordakis