- Yiorgos Kordakis
Nestled in the traditional village of Fira, on the Greek island of Santorini, Summer House in Fira is a quaint dwelling like no other. Kapsimalis Architects, also located in Santorini, designed the home on the site of an old two-storey residence which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1956. Among a village of traditional white buildings, this summer house feels decidedly fresh and modern.
The home is oriented to the west, facing the famous volcano. Built so as to preserve as much as the original floor plan as possible, Summer House in Fira is a simple, small-scale design. The sole windows on the structure are the two doors which serve as the entry points in to the home. The doors let in just enough light to reach the cool interior. White plaster covers the exterior walls, which have been formed in perfect squares to enclose the home’s terraces. A few small planter boxes complete the look.
On the far side of the terrace, a few steps lead up to the small pool. Its elevated position makes it feel like a strange sort of monument. Just beyond, the ever-present Aegean Sea easily imparts its beauty on everything around. Sparkling in the sun and dotted with the ships, the sea is not so much a feature of the landscape as it is the entire landscape. The sea has a funny way of making everything seem a part of it, and everything feel like it can’t exist without it.
For fans of Kapsimalis, the stunning form of Summer House in Fira might call to mind some of their other equally majestic projects: Summer Residence in Imerovigli, Pyrgos Summer House, and House in Messaria. I keep coming back to Kapsimalis the way museum-goers seek their favourite artist. Their designs feel familiar, yet unique. Simple, yet warm. And it doesn’t hurt that they have chosen to set up shop in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The interior of the home was kept simple due to the small nature of the site. The sitting room, bedroom, kitchenette, and bathroom are placed in a row, using the elongated form of the old residence. Room separators are avoided so that the space reads as one long volume. Dressed in head to toe white, the interior holds only the necessities.
Summer House in Fira is one of those designs that can be endlessly admired—consuming each photograph hungrily, once, twice, or more, and still long to stare. What is it about these simple white structures that is so immersive? From the simple arrangement of forms, the perfect white walls, to the soothing repetition of a staircase, this small summer house is a remarkable design. And all neatly set against a backdrop of the highest calibre. These images instil a sense of calm: each one feels like a small taste of holiday. We sit here, daydreaming of salt air and warm sun, and a marvellous holiday home from which to enjoy it all.