Athens-based design studio ANAKTAE has restored an old farmhouse and wine press, transforming it into a summer house in the Greek island of Aegina and the area of Livadi. Just one hour’s ferry ride from Athens, Aegina is best known for its Doric temples, Byzantine chapels, and neoclassical townhouses, but its vernacular folk architecture has its own timeless lyricism. Humble yet aesthetically flawless, this summer house embodies the effortless spirit of Greek summer when life is reduced to the simplest, but most profound elements.
Built in the 1930s from the island’s characteristic blush-pink stone, the farmhouse originally overlooked a flourishing vineyard, with stunning views of the estate and the nearby sea. The structures were built in stages to accommodate the bare necessities for the farm workers who lived here during the summer grape harvest: modest living quarters, a wine press, an outhouse containing a wood-fired oven, and stables carved into the rock to shelter the livestock. In the late 1950s, the vines were replaced with pistachio trees, Aegina’s most famous crop. Over the years, the estate was abandoned and gradually began to crumble into the soft, fertile landscape.
The new owners, art connoisseurs with great sensitivity and respect for the local architecture and landscape, wished to restore the house with minimal intervention. Using locally quarried stone, ANAKTAE pieced the puzzle of the stone walls back together again. The vaulted timber ceilings and slate floors were reconstructed, and new window frames installed. The outdoor oven was transformed into a petite guesthouse, while remaining faithful to the original design and materials.
The house offers cool respite from the intense summer heat and light, while celebrating the liberating energy of Greek summer. Open-plan spaces flow as one but can easily be reconfigured to accommodate different purposes or additional house guests. The fittings and furniture are stripped back to the essentials for easy-going island life – minimal, functional, versatile, relaxed. Bamboo pergolas and terracotta terraces create additional outdoor living space. Simple stone benches along the property’s perimeter allow residents to immerse themselves in the sounds, colours, and scents of the landscape: the hypnotic chanting of cicadas, the melody of birdsong, a glimpse of the sea, the soothing aroma of the pistachio groves, the gentle hum of bees carried on the sea breeze. The gentle palette connects the sun-dappled interiors to the natural surroundings – reddish stone, pale clay, ochre bamboo, pink-and-green pistachio trees. A peaceful ode to human proportions and natural materials, offset by the owners’ collection of contemporary art, which includes many works created by local artists living on Aegina.