“Maina” is a tower-house residence in Exo Nyfi, an abandoned traditional settlement in Eastern Mani, Peloponnese, that was designed in accordance with the vernacular housing types in the conservation listed settlements of the area.
Mani is a special place. Its turbulent history, rugged natural beauty and distinctive architecture provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.
It is a rare and most valuable asset of Greece that is now beginning to be embraced by all, including many people from outside Greece, who wish to settle in the area or to spend their summers there. Exo Nyfi, in particular, is an abandoned traditional settlement with stone towers. In this village John Kassavetis shot his film “The tempest”. Positioned on the hill the house looks out over the Mani landscape with views of olive groves and the sea. The aim of the design was to renovate the tower-house and to convert it into a holiday villa that would exude a primordial spirit of place. The residence was designed to function as a starting point and a place to familiarize oneself with the natural beauty of Mani as well as its cultural wealth, helping in this way to shed light on the traditional settlements in the area and help bring them back to life, as they have slowly been abandoned with the passage of time.
In shaping the outdoor areas, a different vocabulary was utilized from that of the building, in order to set up an interactive relationship between the direct physical and historical landscape and the building’s new intended use. The original building was maintained as a long narrow volume, which unfolds perpendicularly to the topographic contour lines of hillside, as do the other houses in the settlement, looking out to the sea and the east. There is a new addition that comprises a second long narrow volume added adjacent to this old building, maintaining the same vertical relationships with the landscape relief. All three levels of the residence constitute single spaces, while the suitable placement of openings ensure natural light and ventilation during the hot Mani summers. This gives rise to either a single holiday villa or two independent units: the katoi and the anoi. Each level has independent access to the outdoor areas, and is designed individually according to ambient sunlight and the natural landscape.
The conversion of this Mani tower-house to an ecologically-minded holiday villa is intended to leave a light footprint on the long history of the building and to open up a dialogue between travelers and place. The project received an honorable mention in the 2015 Domes Awards “13 best built works in Greece of 2010-2014”.