Diagonal House / en-route-architecture

The diagonal house is a summer residence situated within a secluded natural area of the Greek Cycladic Island of Kea. The strong topographical changes of the surrounding landscape represent at the same time the conceptual source and guideline for the architectural idea.

Architects: en-route-architecture
Location: Kea island, Cyclades, Greece
Photography: Mariana Bisti

The house – placed diagonal to the slope of the topography – is organized as a subdivided square with alternating enclosed and open spaces. Windows and structural elements create cinematic frames of the surrounding landscape, the Aegean Sea, and neighboring islands. Due to the steep topography, the backside of the house is submerged within the landscape, while its front is oriented towards the main view. The house is thus protected from harsh climatic conditions, such as high temperatures and strong winds. All support functions of the house, such as bathrooms and the kitchen, are placed towards the backside allowing for unobstructed movement and views within the house and towards the landscape.

The use of exposed concrete as a structural and visual frame is intended as a contemporary interpretation of a traditional stone house. This reinterpretation of traditional building techniques is also related to the integration of active and passive techniques for heating, cooling, and energy generation. Such techniques thereby allow for a high degree of energy efficiency and independence. Small windows oppose large openings with operable shutters that are located in the alternating courtyards and rooms. This juxtaposition allows for the channeling of cross ventilation from the prevailing winds through the enclosed and open spaces. Thereby, keeping the house cool throughout the year and warm during the colder periods. The roof of the house is used to collect rainwater in submerged tanks that are re-used in the house as filtered water. Solar panels were intended to be hidden in the landscape to produce sufficient energy in order to keep the house running off the grid.

The diagonal house Is part of an architectural trilogy, consisting of parallel, diagonal and perpendicular houses. This trilogy is based on a study on how summer residences with the minimum necessary spaces, can relate to their immediate context in a simple and yet captivating way. The study thus represents an iteration of three minimal houses that each have a most optimal and yet different relationship to their specific topography and landscape. Up until now, the diagonal-house and parallel-house have been successfully completed, while the perpendicular-house is currently preparing for construction.

Similar to the design of the other houses, the diagonal house was conceived and constructed as a strong and yet minimal contrast to its surrounding landscape. Through this contrast and the embedding of hidden principles, the focus is laid upon the maximum experience of the landscape itself.