DECA Architecture recently completed Hourglass Corral, a house in the Southern part of the Greek island of Milos that is intrinsically molded by the natural conditions of its site. Sunk low and stoic in the sun-drenched Cycladic landscape cooled by breezes from the nearby sea, it accommodates 4 bedrooms that all face South, the roof planted with a variety of aromatic plants. Forming part of the Voronoi’s Corrals, a larger territory the architects have been designing for the last ten years, the house is intended to generate reciprocity between architecture and nature, geometrical rules and wilderness.
Voronoi’s Corrals is a landscape in Southern Milos with a total area of 90,000 square meters where DECA Architecture has inserted 5 corrals. The outlines of the corrals, that have existed on the Greek islands for centuries as informal and empirical ways of zoning, define clear boundaries between areas of wilderness and new residential and productive agricultural land for their mutual protection.
Alexandros Vaitsos and Carlos Loperena, the two founding partners at DECA Architecture, scouted and studied the landscape for months, carefully assessing the qualities of each corner of the expansive territory.
“We gained a very thorough understanding of the site and the island: we commissioned from a botanist a study of the biodiversity of the flora from the site, we researched the history, economy and population data of the island, we studied the behavior of the wind and geology of the area. Our goal was to approach the project so that it truly belonged to the place,” says Carlos Loperena.
The Hourglass is the largest domestic environment within the broader landscape of Voronoi’s Corrals. Its organization is derived from a parametric manipulation of Voronoi cells to relate specific views to its domestic program. Each cell corresponds to a clearly defined use, be it an exterior courtyard, a shading canopy, a common space, a bedroom, or an auxiliary space.
The rough and weathered stone walls of the house, with their strong and comforting weight, fully encircle it on all sides. Facing South, however, any sense of enclosure disappears, exposing the residence to the full trajectory of the sun. Horizontality prevails, the exposed concrete beams with their shading canopies cantilevering beyond the stone facades and dissolving in front of the uninterrupted panorama of the Aegean Sea.
Each cell of the Corral is planted with a different type of aromatic plant, used for the extraction of essential oils, insulating the roofs and resulting in a pattern that gives a vivid representation of the underlying design strategy while at the same time making the residential volumes blend into its landscape. From above, the main indicator of inhabitation comes from the circular skylights that mark the point which generate each Voronoi cell.
When night falls, the absence of light pollution makes the sky look spectacular, the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon. The sound of the nearby sea and fresh smell of its water reaches the house, making its presence felt. Dwellers can appreciate the natural haven they are living in, with its minimal disruption to the native landscape.
Photography by Yiorgis Yerolymbos.