Nestled on the rugged northwest coast of Antiparos Island in the Cyclades, Ridge House stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of architecture and nature. Designed by AREA, Architecture Research Athens for Oliaros Development, the permanent year-round island residence encapsulates the essence of outdoor living while providing respite from the region’s heat and relentless winds.
Perched along a natural ridge in the island’s topography, the house transforms its prominent location into its most defining feature. As the architects describe, “the design of the house thus begins as a reading of the landscape. It clings to the rock, anchored by a long, curving retaining wall, which closely follows the natural contours of the site”. Beneath this rocky backbone, a sequence of subterranean spaces emerges, including discreetly positioned guest quarters that open to captivating sea views, hidden from above by lushly planted roofs. Extending seaward from this sturdy foundation, a “floating” pergola structure forms an archetypal outdoor living space, partly ensconced in greenery, contrasting beautifully with the hillside. Inside, the main living areas seamlessly integrate with scattered wall volumes of various sizes, shapes, and materials. Rejecting traditional room divisions, the house embraces the fluidity of traditional Cycladic architecture. A unified plane of exposed concrete ceiling, unburdened by beams, allows the walls to dissolve into pergolas, while sliding windows effortlessly vanish into wall volumes, bridging the indoors and outdoors. The result is a captivating interplay of solids and voids.
The architectural language of “fragments” is enriched by autonomously shaped exposed concrete columns and solid marble elements and pedestals, reminiscent of the historical spolia of traditional Greek settlements. The house’s interconnected outdoor spaces, including a primary entry courtyard, a rooftop seating area, and a basement courtyard offer a multifaceted living experience. “The experience of circulating through the house is that of “wandering” through a labyrinth, as in a Cycladic village, where unexpected views and hybrid morphologies continuously surprise the visitor”, says the team. Ridge House sets a benchmark for sustainability. Extensive use of thermal mass reduces the need for mechanical cooling systems, while the preference for local materials such as stone, marble, and cane lends an authentic touch to the architecture. Native flora graces the landscaping, echoing the island’s natural beauty, and an in-depth wind study guided the placement and programming of the house, balancing the desire for shelter and extroversion.