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Grace Santorini Hotel, Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

Thursday 21 Apr 2011

A volcanic setting

¬©Erieta Attali 
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Award Entry

A unique hotel built into a cliff-face on the volcanic island of Santorini 

This 20-room hotel is carved into the cliff-face 300m above Santorini's volcanic caldera. The understated design allows this extraordinary landscape to take centre stage. The hotel provides a contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture: economy of space, radical simplicity, and organic forms. Like Santorini's yposkafa - cave-like dwellings with rounded walls and domed roofs excavated from the rock-face - no furniture is free-standing. Custom-built storage and vanity units are moulded into alcoves. All-white interiors with brushed concrete floors reiterate the trademark whitewashed houses of the Cyclades. The infinity pool's jagged outline echoes the zigzag paths that criss-cross Santorini's sheer terrain.

Santorini's hotel rooms are invariably front-loaded to face the view, leaving residents exposed to passers-by. To ensure privacy, fragments of volcanic rock are positioned in the windows of four rooms, interspersed with apertures that provide glimpses to the sea. The feature echoes a local architectural technique, more commonly used for retaining walls, in which minimal amounts of mortar are used, leaving gaps between the stonework. By exposing the stones and exaggerating the spaces between them, this light-filtering screen allows privacy and ventilation and casts
dappled shadows as the sun goes down.

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Divercity & Mplusm

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