Escape route: React Architects align architecture and environment in Paros
On the island of Paros React Architects have embedded a low-lying house complex with a stone exterior wall into a curved site that slopes down towards the sea. Mindful to preserve the natural beauty of the house’s location in the Agios Ioannis Detis area, a protected stretch of rocky landscape that meets the serene Naoussa Bay, Natasha Deliyianni and Yiorgos Spiridonos, directors of React architects, wanted to leave the smallest possible footprint on the horizon.
The project on the 11,000 sq m site is made up of two houses with white plaster walls, a shared courtyard and swimming pool, all of which is surrounded by a stone exterior wall – enveloping and protecting the inhabited space in what the architects describe as a ‘hug’. The architectural grouping of forms follows the traditional ‘katoikiés’ style of Cycladic architecture, which can also be seen in the plans of monasteries on Paros featuring a church at the centre and satellite buildings all surrounded by an enclosing exterior wall.
Hug House designed by Athens-based React Architects is landscaped to the terrain of the land in a protected area of natural beauty
Sensitive to the gradual incline of the land, the complex is settled into the natural topography and only the tops of the exterior walls are visible to passersby. The architects chose a stone that was visually similar in colour to the surrounding terrain, and this border is designed so the white walls of the houses can only be seen from the courtyard.
The architecture also works to bring privacy to the relatively exposed site – entry to the house complex is from the highest point of the site, where a pathway descends between two buttressing walls into the heart of the courtyard.
The position of the house in relation to the land, also means that the inhabitants are protected from the strong winds from the north, just another instance of how the React Architects have constructively challenged the symbiotic relationship between the architecture and the environment.