The design of ‘Aloni’ by decaARCHITECTURE is a dual response to the particular topography of its site and to the rural domestication techniques that in the past shaped the raw ‘Cycladic island’ landscape. In the past, dry-rubble stone walls domesticated the land for agricultural purposes and were the most prominent man-made interventions in the landscape. The walls retained earth and transformed a steep topography into a series of arable plateaus. Today, the Cycladic islands are being reshaped by a very different force: the demand for holiday homes. The design uses the precedent of earth-retaining stone walls to create an artificial landscape that is both rural and domestic in use.
The site is a natural saddle where two slopes meet. In the North-South axis the slope rises between two hills while in the East-West axis the slope drops, opening to the sea views. Two long stone walls bridge the hills allowing the house to nestle in the space within while maintaining the continuity of the landscape which flows over it. This simple strategy blurs the edges of the house and makes its mass imperceptible within the broader skyline of the island. The presence of the house is revealed by the four courtyards carved into the flowing landscape. The courtyards separate the living spaces into five interior areas, an arrangement which resembles the fifth side of a dice. As a result, the house is protected from the elements, yet is full of natural light, generous views and a compact but rich relationship to its setting. The name of the house itself, Aloni, refers to the remains of a crop-harvesting circle that was found and preserved as part of the agricultural past of the site.