When dealing with a complicated site—like a rocky cove on a beautiful Greek island—one of the biggest design decisions is how the building will sit on the land. Some designers use columns to lift the building off the sloped ground while others build partially into the land. Mold Architects chose the latter with the NCaved house; it perfectly follows the contours of the cliff, creating an incredible hidden gem with an excellent view of the water.
The architects explain that they attempted to “produce a three-dimensional ‘chessboard' of solids and voids that accommodate and, at the same time, isolate the residence quarters.” This design study of solid and void informed them as to which blocks should become inhabitable areas and which should remain solid ground. That is why the NCaved does not have a real shape or form but acts as a collection of connected underground spaces.
Though Ncaved certainly makes for a unique home, the design move was not just for the aesthetics of an underground dwelling. Its location provides protection from strong north winds just as a natural cave offers shelter from the elements. The design also helps to prioritize the natural landscape and minimizes the appearance of human intervention. Instead of creating a traditional home, all decisions are informed by the landscape.
The concrete and earth-colored stones help NCaved house blend into the terrain. The designers also choose a variety of these warm colors and materials to recreate the varied roughness and texture of the land. “This rough feeling of a natural cavity was what we aimed to recreate with our choice of materials and color palette,” says Mold Architects. “Stone, exposed concrete, wood, and metal are used with precision to create coarse inner shells.” The palette continues through to the interior with beautiful compositions that balance smooth materials with rocky walls that relate to the cliffside.
To contrast, all openings facing the water prioritize glass. This helps to fill the mostly underground house with plenty of natural light and encourages a view towards the sea. External circulation on the outside is made possible by monumental concrete stairs that also follow the curvature of the cliff—meaning that depending on the direction, inhabitants are getting an incredible view of the sea or the stunning mountains beyond. NCaved house truly celebrates the natural beauty of Serifos Island at every turn.