Cometa Architects: Rocksplit, house on the island of Kea in the Cyclades

Cometa Architects,


Ville, Housing,

Cometa Architects has come up with a new version of traditional Greek construction and stone cladding technologies in the Rocksplit home. This house on the island of Kea, designed by Cometa Architects in the archipelago of the Cyclades, seems to be born out of the land it stands on.

Cometa Architects: Rocksplit, house on the island of Kea in the Cyclades
On the island of Kea, in the Cyclades, where the sea withdraws and the land turns from flat to rocky, stands Cometa Architects’ Rocksplit house, paying refined homage to traditional Greek building techniques. Cometa Architects’ Rocksplit project, a family vacation home, seeks to blend into its natural surroundings through form and use of materials. The island’s rocky hills stand out like balconies over the sea, devoid of vegetation. These natural terraces are reflected in the terraces the architects have designed in the Rocksplit home, set on different levels and oriented in all directions.
The desire to stay rooted in history and the past wherever possible (probably due to the architects’ particular sensibility, which drives them to avoid contaminating what has been naturally preserved whenever they can), leads the architects of Cometa to go back to a traditional building technique, making dry stone walls of hand-sculpted local stone. In typological terms, their model is the traditional low, horizontal home with flat roofs on different levels that are used to collect rainwater.
And so the structure of this concrete building is finished with microcement on the biggest horizontal surfaces, the patios, and covered with great care on the vertical surfaces, laying stone over stone in a clear imitation of the natural conformation of the island’s rocky soil.
The alternation of solids and hollows characterising the architectural volume and the development of its functional parts are underlined by the dialectic between dark rock and lighter grey, almost white rock. Behind the south-facing main wall with the entrance door in it are the living room and kitchen, followed by the circulation tower, both made of dark rock. On the second level, more sheltered and facing downhill, are the bedrooms and a storage room covered with white stone.
Out of this monolithic geometric block, which may be broken down into fragments underlined by the colours of the rock, emerge the details of the design, such as the windows. There are many windows of different sizes on every side, as if they had each been designed to frame a specific view. A sketch shows how single small windows and folding windows in different forms have been specifically designed for different widths. Some of the outdoor accessories are also made of wood, including the pergolas and the tables, expanding the living space outdoors in an area sheltered from the summer heat of the Cyclades. The interior is dominated by the white microcement floors on two levels and wooden furniture, custom-designed in a rustic style reflecting Mediterranean traditions.
The return to the “Kotounto” building method and the creation of gaps between the rocky soil and the structure to release moisture from the ground in order to keep the walls and floors dry are part of a more complex energy strategy. The home has an underfloor heating system supplied by solar collectors installed on the roof, and is cooled by transverse ventilation, another traditional method which relies on the numerous small openings mentioned above, arranged diagonally in relation to one another. Lastly, rainwater is collected from the three roofs and stored in an underground reservoir.

Mara Corradi

Architects: Faidra Matziaraki & Victor Gonzalez (Cometa Architects)
Collaborators: Betty Tsaousi, Olga Balaoura, Laura Mascuñan, Denisse Gómez Casco
Mechanical engineer: Eustratios Komis
Construction realisation: Zoulamopoulos Construction Company  
Structural Design: Vasilios Vakis
Supervision: Faidra Matziaraki
Interior design Faidra Matziaraki & Victor Gonzalez Marti
Sustainable design: Eustratios Komis
Client: Private
Location: Kea Island, Cyclades, Greece
Structural design: Vasilios Vakis & Nikos Zoulamopoulos
Gross useable floor space: 150 sqm
Lot size: 10,000 sqm
Built surface: 115 sqm
Start of work: November 2014
Completion of work: July 2016
Structure in: Reinforced Concrete
Facades in: Stone
Indoor surfaces: Microcement
Outdoor surfaces: Microcement
Floors: Microcement and underfloor heating & cooling
Photographs: © Dimitris Kleanthis

Honorable mention in domes Greek architecture in the category Best New Build Project
Silver Award in category Architecture, Building, Structure, Design in a Design Awards