OOAK designs rooftop retreat on the Greek island of Karpathos

A new house in Karpathos – the second one on the island for the young architecture firm – is OOAK's latest project in Greece, combining contemporary architecture with an outdoors feel, an unusual site, and the surrounding village's picturesque character

Karpathos House 2 OOAK
The project’s unusual lot partly occupies an existing building’s rooftop.
(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis)

‘How can we create a house on a rooftop whilst maintaining the site's rooftop feel?' wondered Athens and Stockholm based architects Maria Papafigou and Johan Annerhed, when their studio, OOAK, was invited to design a new residential project on the relatively remote Greek island of Karpathos. 

The firm, which had completed a striking house in Karpathos in 2019, was already familiar with the local geography and the region's picturesque architecture, and sought to combine that with their own contemporary aesthetic, while creating a building that felt new, but also ‘of its place'. Bringing a new set of challenges, this latest commission was in a completely different setting than their earliest work (a concrete holiday home on Afiarti beach), set in the village of Diafani in the island's north. 

Karpathos House 2 OOAK aerial

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis)

The site was key to the design concept. The lot was situated partially on the rooftop of an existing building, in line with the island's signature stepped villages and practice of shared roofs and terraces. ‘So our primary design goal was to maintain the outdoor rooftop feeling of the site, while creating a house around it,' say the architects. 


In order to create some privacy for the owners, while keeping the space open to the outdoors, the team designed a perimeter wall, embracing the main living spaces; these are composed of an open plan sitting, kitchen and dinning area, which spills out to a generous terrace with a sun deck and swimming pool. A large, 13.8m opening connects effortlessly the two parts, inside and outside. Above this, an enclosed volume, which references the local vernacular architecture in its design (in particular the window shutters and metal work), contains the more private spaces.  While the views are central to the design, anchoring it in its place through carefully framed vistas towards the sea and the surrounding buildings, the architects worked with a variety of textures and colours in the interiors, to ‘accentuate and enrich this experience', they explain. As a result, the spaces inside feel modern, but also distinctly welcoming and tactile, making this holiday home an ideal place to sit back and unwind.

Karpathos House 2 OOAK terrace

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis )

Karpathos House 2 OOAK dinning

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis )

Karpathos House 2 OOAK living space

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis )

Karpathos House 2 OOAK bedroom

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis )

Karpathos House 2 OOAK bathroom

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis )

Karpathos House 2 OOAK storage

(Image credit: Yiorgos Kordakis)


ooakarchitects.com (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).