This is a renovation project of a stone-built residence, originally constructed in the late 19th century, in the heart of the Old Town of Rethymno.
The house consists of two storeys separated by a wooden floor. The ground floor was formerly divided by a stonewall, creating two independent narrow spaces, a dining room and a kitchen. The only lavatory of the house was built within the stone wall, and instead of a washroom, there was a stone washbasin in the far end of the kitchen, across the lavatory. On the first floor, there were two bedrooms and a small storage room, with a wooden staircase connecting it with the ground floor and the terrace.
The project is centered around two main characteristics of the house that were discovered during the initial examination and within the early plaster removal process. The two key elements being the built-in organically shaped fireplace in the kitchen area, and the wide pointed arch in the stone wall that separated the kitchen and the living room, which was covered by successive layers of mortar. The existence of the arch suggested that the ground floor was initially open plan instead of two narrow rooms, thus the redesign of the house focused on restoring the original floor plan, transforming the divided dark spaces into an open functional house, ultimately maximizing the focus on the fireplace. The top floor mainly sustained its original design, the only difference being the conversion of the storage room to a fully equipped bathroom. The wooden floor was replaced retaining its original materials and layout, while the stairs were redesigned to be safe and functional. The materials used in the restoration of the house were for the most part natural, mainly stone and wood, with discreet metal details, so that the new interventions would be harmoniously integrated into the existing building.
The biggest difficulty of the restoration proposal proved to be dealing with construction issues. The phenomenon of oxidation in the roof slab and within the perimeter beams was distinctly observed from the first examination of the house. The roof was formed by a primitive form of zoellner slab, consisting mainly of bricks. This construction was preferred in order to ease heaviness of the materials and to make the transportation of bricks and concrete in the Old Town by hand easier.
During the restoration of the roof, anodes were used to lessen the erosion effect and the roof was reinforced with a new mantle of shotcrete. Old photos of the house prove the large problem of rising humidity, which was addressed through the complete waterproofing of the building, with cement injections at the base of the stone wall, and with breathable coatings as a final layer.
The interventions on the facade of the house were designed with absolute respect to both the original character of the building and to the overall character of the Old Town of Rethymno. The original wooden doors and windows were irreparably worn, so they were replaced with new ones of the same material and shape, while a plaster mortar with a light earth color was chosen. The connection with the materials and colors used in the interior of the house is direct, giving the whole operation an aesthetic and functional unity.
Images © Dimitris Kalligas