Island House: The Story
“I bought the land in 2006, and chose to design Atelier Bow-Wow in 2008. I had always planned Peninsula as my family’s future home. When I married Argyro, we vetted all the alternative options from Oliaros’ portfolio and agreed to keep Peninsula, making some modifications to make it work.” Better for our family.The Tsakonas have worked with Atelier Bow-Wow founders Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima before, so they have an especially smooth and synergistic working relationship.
Peninsula’s design works within Oliaros’ property development approach, prioritizing low-impact homes and operating as part of a larger, well-thought-out masterplan, ultimately preserving the island’s identity while transforming it into a new architectural destination. In the same vein, this is not only a thoroughly contemporary home, but also a piece of architecture that remains in meaningful dialogue with its context, respectfully endorsing the spartan nature of the region’s traditional Greek architecture.
“This is the first house we designed on the island — and the third built,” says Tsukamoto. ‘I’ve been there many times. I enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle and architecture, especially the vernacular architecture that comes from this harsh environment. It is beautiful, but not a kind nature. And I appreciate Iasson’s idea of preserving the landscape by developing properties farther apart—everything is coordinated in a way, and there’s consistency. Atelier Bow-Wow’s ongoing interest and research in local construction methods, materials, and techniques fuels this project, as he draws parallels between simple, detail-driven Japanese architecture and Cycladic vernacular.
The house is composed of two volumes, brought together by a careful composition of the outdoor areas with the help of the renowned Athens landscape architecture firm Doxiadis +. A serpentine network of terraces, outdoor seating areas, outdoor circulation ways, and a very important water element in the form of a long pool connect the two stone volumes of the property. “Atelier Bow-Wow’s central response was the aqueduct connecting and circulating through the ‘ruin’, the outdoor barbecue pavilion, and the ‘village’, the family building, which I purchased on the spot,” says Tsakunas. While the pandemic meant that the architects weren’t able to visit the site as often as they’d like, local architect Stefanos Nasopoulos and Oliaros head of technical team Christos Kaklamanis helped make sure everything was finished to a high standard.
Interior of The Peninsula House
Inside, whitewashed walls and light concrete floors complement Tsakonas’ extensive collection of art and design. An avid collector, Tsakunas began buying the pieces while working in real estate in Azerbaijan. When he returned to Athens to found Oliaros in 2001, his passion for collecting grew, resulting in a vast mix of contemporary art, design, ceramics, and Azerbaijani carpets totaling over 500 pieces. Here, furniture and art blend together seamlessly, uniting new and heritage pieces in a blend that feels effortless and transcendent.
The porch marble pattern is a good example of this. The architects drew on traditional Japanese gardens and calligraphy, and the result is reminiscent of the work of Greek architect Dimitris Pekounis, who worked on landscaping around the Acropolis in the 1950s and was similarly inspired by the Japanese garden tradition. “I want Peninsula House to be an example of contemporary Greek architecture with a Japanese hand—not flashy, not about statement,” Tsakonas adds. “The statement is simply its timeless elegance, no matter the size.”
A version of this article appears in the December 2022 issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, in the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and for subscribers to Apple News+. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today (Opens in a new tab)
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