In her architectural concept, Athens-based architect Katerina Valsamaki emphasised the importance of carefully integrating the building into the natural environment and having an “open dialogue” with the panoramic coastal views. Generous light openings, constructed with window and sliding systems from Schüco, allow the natural surroundings to be experienced throughout the house.
Tolo is a fishing, seaside and tourist location situated in the Peloponnese mountains, approximately 10 km south-east of Nafplio, the first capital of Greece. The plot of Villa NafplioBlu is located on the hillside above the town, surrounded by olive groves. This picturesque, exposed location permits spectacular panoramic views of the Argolic Gulf with its offshore islands of Plateia, Psili and Spetses.
Architecture follows nature
The location of Villa NafplioBlu gains even more importance in conjunction with the stylistic concept created by Katerina Valsamaki Architects (see also separate interview). In her concept, the architect accords a great deal of importance to the dialogue between the building and its environment. The position and natural surroundings of the plot in Tolo gave her the opportunity to meet this objective in full. The building is therefore nestled in the natural slope of the hillside, with some sections even built directly into the rock. In order to provide the best possible visibility of the sea views for the residents in all of the main usage zones, the rectangular building structure is arranged square to the hillside and flows into a wide open, elongated glass façade facing the sea, with a swimming pool running in parallel to almost the full length of the ground floor. Generous, open-plan living and eating areas are located here and, depending on the weather conditions and the comfort needs of the residents, there is a flexible choice between a Mediterranean outdoor living lifestyle and a transparent room division.
Nine metre-wide sliding system
In order to draw nature into the building, to dissolve the boundaries between inside and outside and to allow the panoramic views to be enjoyed all year round, the architect designed this 9 metre-wide light opening facing the sea, which was constructed using the Schüco ASS 50 sliding system. Due to the outstanding structural properties of the system, it was possible for the entire width and height of the ocean side façade to be spanned using just four slimline sliding units, each measuring approximately 2.30 m x 2.90 m.
The Schüco partner company AlotekSA from Lamia constructed the four-segment system to be barrier-free using guide tracks embedded in the floor, whereby each segment runs on its own track across the entire width of the light opening. This made it possible to park all four segments directly one behind the other with no offset, all outside of the field of vision of the living space. When used in this manner, an opening of 9.00 m x 2.90 m with no visible supports is created.
Other “strategic light openings”
In keeping with her stylistic principles, the architect also worked with windows and window doors elsewhere in the building façade, which she herself describes as “strategic light openings”. Hence on the upper floor, which is set back in a similar way to a stepped storey and houses two additional bedrooms and bathrooms, the panoramic view of nature is also the shining star here as well, which the architecture consistently pursues. Floor-to-ceiling, two-part Schüco ASS 50 sliding systems and an elongated Schüco AWS 70 BS.HI panoramic window provide views of the surrounding landscape and the sea in the master bedroom. In the bathroom on the ground floor, a room-height turn/tilt window (also Schüco AWS 70 BS.HI) allows the user to either marvel at the surrounding olive groves or go out into the natural environment.
Puristic materials and selected building management technology
Aluminium window, door and sliding systems from Schüco were selected not just due to their elegance and high functionality. The sealing of the rooms and year-round energy efficiency were also deciding factors that were taken into account when opting for insulating glass with a sun shading coating. The architect also found the aluminium systems to be simply the best solution in terms of long-term care and maintenance, especially given the proximity of the building to the coast, where the frame materials and all exposed components are subjected to increased loading from a high level of UV radiation and a corrosive atmosphere.
Low-maintenance durability and understated elegance governed the choice of materials throughout Villa NafplioBlu. Stone façade units made from local natural stone, white plaster, natural stone flagstones and natural timber surfaces were selected not just because they are easy to care for but also to help integrate the building into its surroundings. The aim of these materials was to anchor the building into its natural environment. In addition to the highly insulated Schüco systems, key elements of the energy efficiency concept were a thermally-insulated façade, solar thermal panels for the provision of hot water and an automated air conditioning system for particularly hot days.
» Project title: Villa NafplioBlu, Tolo (GR)
» Use: Private holiday home and holiday rental
» Architect: Katerina Valsamaki Architects, Athens (GR); www.katerinavalsamaki.gr
» Metal fabricator: Alotek AE, Lamia (GR)
» Completion: 2018
Schüco systems in the project:
» Sliding systems: Schüco ASS 50
» Fixed glazing and turn/tilt window: AWS 70 BS.HI
» Entrance door: Schüco ADS 65.HD
» Special features: 9050 x 2920 mm Schüco ASS 50 sliding system, consisting of four units each with their own guide track; Granite-coloured profiles with a sand-blasted look 'Gris 2900 Sable'; Insulating glazing with sun shading glass on the side exposed to weathering.