At the foot of ‘Lefka Ori’ the village of Roustika grow on the hilltops, tucked away in the olive groves, vineyards and herb bushes. In this primordial place, 500 meters from the village a French couple decided to house their large extended family and spend their summers in a pure Cretan environment where traditions hold and stand the test of time.

“At first we wrote a brief as if it was a first page of a summer novel, narrating a summer day in this imaginary Cretan house and its rural environment. Simultaneously, it describes different areas of the house and the surrounding large garden and how could be enjoyed by the inhabitants during different hours of the day. Immediately, the direct relation between the inside and the outside was our main concept. Cretan life is well connected with earth, the outdoors, the olive trees, and we were keen to sustain this throughout our design.

We wanted to create a typically Cretan dwell, simple, distinguished and very proud. By combining these characteristics with a contemporary approach and a respect for the natural environment resulted to a unique, restful retreat. The large arched entrance, leading to an enclosed courtyard, revives memories of the Venetians who left their mark on the island. The thick store walls, built on different levels, create staircases, terraces, outdoor showering and seating areas. Purity of lines, modern methods of construction with local materials (traditional ochre is mixed in the plaster of the exterior) and sophisticated details (modern wooden sliding doors, and an elaborate hidden gutter system) set the tone of the outside and inside of the house. Having studied thoroughly the topography, we placed a unique and peaceful retreat into the landscape, as if the building was always there…”

Design team: Jason Vayanos, Natalia Kokosalaki, Eirini Mavrouka
Images © George Messaritakis
Custom ceramic tiles: Melina Xenaki