Natalia Kokosalaki intervened in an abandoned neoclassical house in Psyrri, Athens, converting an empty space with a beautiful shell into a flexible and multi-functional loft. Psyrri is one of the most controversial areas of the city, and the particular building is one of the few residential spaces in the neighborhood, as all other buildings are used as places of entertainment.
“My general philosophy in architecture is avoiding to create a final product, to dissuade myself from seeking absolute control of the designed spaces. In this matter, I was interested more in the physical quality of the spaces rather their uses. Besides, the owner is a photographer and his desire from the beginning was to be able to explore the prospects of each corner of the house for various fashion shoots, as indeed he has done.
Unlike modernist aesthetics, I found it necessary to disconnect the outside and the inside, so that nothing on the appearance of the building would prefigure and prepare the visitor for the spatial relationships and the materials that define its interior. While conceptualizing the spaces of the loft, I was led to use excerpts of urban life such as liquidity, diversity, flexibility, multiple use, the contradictions and unexpected sense of exposure that one can have in a dense urban environment. This house’s forms and design bring to mind familiar elements of city living, such as sharp contrasts, elegance and roughness, bright light and darkness, standard materials and raw materials.
The staircase stands out (ramp skate, half pipe, constructed by architect Zachos Varfi), as it refers to the complexity of motion in the modern city and at the same time stands as a reference to the owner’s past as a skater in the eighties. The staircase leads to a new addition to the house, the mezzanine, were a bedroom and an en-suite bathroom are placed, exposed to the rest of the house. The mezzanine feels like a separate building housed in the loft.”