The idea of the enclosed or ‘secret’ garden as part of the domestic space can be found in traditional architecture in Cyprus, and especially in Nicosia, where the commissioned private house is located.

The garden traditionally functioned as an incubator of natural matter and nurtured the ‘informal’ part of the domestic life. Historical references from foreign travelers to Nicosia from the 14th Century, describe the garden as a space that is surrounded by a high wall and which contains a plethora of ornamental as well as productive plants. It is described as an important part of the domestic life offering pleasant smells and noises, while at the same time it forms the historical urban identity of the city.

For this project the enclosed garden becomes part of the domestic life, and in close relevance to the daily domestic routine. A 16 by 16 by 5 meters box includes the necessary living spaces for the daily routine. At the same time the box also includes fragments of nature, in the form of four small gardens, which are considered equally important as a divergence from the daily routine of the family. The 4 enclosed gardens also help as incubators for growing up species and testing them in local climate before relocating them in the exterior field that surrounds the house.

For the construction we have used simple materials produced by local industries, such as concrete masonry units (CMU) and white concrete units as breeze bricks. The wood and metal work is made by local craftsmen.

‘House with Four Gardens’ won the first prize in the ‘built project’ category and the first prize in the ‘colleagues’ category of DOMa. Additionally the project is nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 21 and nominated last year for the Piranesi Award 19.

Design team: Christiana Ioannou, Christos Papastergiou (

Consultants: Nikos Kalathas, Nikos Kypris / EPS civil eng., Christos Topouzis, Savvas Christodoulou / Eplan electrical eng., Prokopis Polydorou / Polypro mechanical eng., Stelios Makrides (QS consultant)

Images © Maria Efthymiou / Creative Photo Room