The aim of this Neoclassical House Renovation in Exarcheia, Athens – a historic neighborhood formed around 1870 that has played a significant role in the social and political life of Greece – was to transform an old house into a modern, single-family residence while maintaining its character. It’s a place where many intellectuals and artists live, among them Karolos Koun a famous Greek theater director who was a former resident of the house in the 50’s and 60’s. In the years that followed, this neoclassic residence also hosted a local tavern.

The compressed size of the house and the lack of light in the space were two inherent issues that needed the architects’ attention. At a first stage, the concept concentrated on increasing the size of the space, taking into consideration the needs of the family. Stacked loft spaces were created, that combined well with the existing playful scheme of different levels inside the house, taking advantage of the great interior height available. By working vertically, schema architecture & engineering altered entirely the way someone apprehends the house, by experiencing the same thing in a different way, depending on where they stand, either near the ground floor or near the roof accordingly.

The space was completely transformed from being really dark to bright by adding skylights to the new exposed wooden roof. In addition, the modification of the old opaque metal and glass doors brought plenty of natural light in the space, throughout the day. At the same time, the open plan introduced facilitated the unification of the space in all three dimensions. The main entrance to the house rises only a step from the street level, while the living room and the kitchen rise an additional two. A few stairs lead either up to the dining space or down to the basement, to a playroom/ guestroom, with a small private bathroom. The kitchen is connected through a small hall to the exterior terrace, adjoined to the dining space. The hall also leads to the master bedroom, the loft office and to the bookcase/ reading loft space a little higher.

The house maintained its character with the attentive selection and refurbishment of the materials used, old and new, which were kept at their natural form. The stone walls were completely stripped from the plaster and the old and damaged tiles. The wooden furniture and floors were entirely restored. All the existing materials were revealed and the newly added ones were designed so as to differ as much as possible and hence not interfere with the timeworn feeling of the house, creating a warm space for a family to live in.

Photos by Marianna Athanasiadou (courtesy of schema architecture & engineering)