Divine simplicity: stone-clad Syros Island house is orientated to perfection

This complex of five buildings on the northwestern edge of the Greek island
This complex of five buildings on the northwestern edge of the Greek island of Syros, makes up a vacation house designed by Thessaloniki-based architect Katerina Tsigarida
(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

Located in the thick of the Cyclades, Syros ticks all the boxes of a Greek island – the gorgeous flat waters of the Aegean, postcard perfect tableaus of little towns that cling to slopes, bijou bays and a wild sparse interior that’s changed little since the days of Homer. And in a picturesque spot in Delphini, in Syros’s northwest, the Thessaloniki-based Katerina Tsigarida Architects have built a complex of low-slung residential villas for a London-based Greek family that has familial and business (textiles and shipping) ties with the island.

The complex – comprising five buildings that house living, dining and bedrooms, and a studio – is sited on the edge of a bay that overlooks a small deserted island. The orientation is subtly ingenious: the axis of each building catches an edge of the bay, while the axes of the intervening courtyards point directly to the island. Getting the orientation right, say the architects, was probably the most challenging part of the project. The results, though, were worth the effort – the spaces offer both natural ventilation and light, and protection from the strong coastal winds.

Interactive tour of Syros Island House

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

The architects say the complex is inspired by ‘the vision of the primitive hut, of man's longing to go back to the essential, and by the ideal of continuity through landscape and memory’. In particular, the silhouettes echo the monolithic stone shapes that can still be found on Syros.

Certainly, this imprimatur of a distant past is reflected in the choice of materials – local stone drives the impression that the buildings emerge from the very earth, whilst a palette of timber ceiling beams, floors of polished cement embedded with grey and black sandstones feels exactly right for the site. For the interiors, a mix of untreated plaster, wooden doors and windows, alongside bespoke wood, concrete and raw aluminium furniture, all add to a pleasing mod-rustic mood.

All buildings catch an edge of the bay

Orientation was key to the design. All buildings catch an edge of the bay, while the axes of the intervening courtyards point directly to the island

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

Local stone exteriors

Local stone exteriors drive the impression that the buildings emerge from the earth

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

Stone walls

The design was inspired by the primitive hut, explain the architects, and a longing for simplicity and going back to basics

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

The different volumes ensures natural ventilation and light

The careful arrangement of the different volumes ensures natural ventilation and light, as well as protection from the strong coastal winds

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

The material palette includes timber ceiling beams and floors of polished

The material palette includes timber ceiling beams and floors of polished cement embedded with grey and black sandstones

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

Design is dominated by a modern-rustic aesthetic

Aligned to Tsigarida’s vision for a simple retreat, the design is dominated by a modern-rustic aesthetic

(Image credit: Yiorgis Yerolymbos)

INFORMATION
For more information visit the architect’s website (opens in new tab)

Photography: Yiorgis Yerolymbos

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.