Santorini – cave house

Perched high on a steep hillside of Profitis Ilias Mountain on the island of Santorini, Greece, away from the surging tourist crowds.This peaceful one-bedroom holiday house by local practice Kapsimalis Architects gives occupants the impression that they are floating above the sea. Taking advantage of the island’s traditional house-building techniques and sticking to a rigorous aesthetic of stripped down modernism, the architects have created a pristine retreat that is fully immersed into the soothing expanse of the Aegean blue.

Taking a page from the island’s cave houses, locally called “yposkafa”, which are dug entirely into the volcanic rock without any foundations, the architects have nestled the house entirely into the mountain slope ensuring the least possible imprint on the landscape. What’s more, the excavation material dug out during construction was put in use building the house’s façade and the surrounding landscape, thereby further reducing any environmental impact.

In the interior, the architects have gone for contemporary minimalism underpinned by a subdued palette of white, grey and beige that is complemented by the warmth of natural textures such as oak and walnut wood, and the starkness of black steel surfaces. Meanwhile, an eclectic selection of furniture provides splashes of colour. As expected, the living spaces are bathed in daylight thanks to the glazed façade while the two bathrooms, one on either side of the house, feature discrete skylights that create a more ambient atmosphere.

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