A stone house. Serifos island: from Cyclops to the present day
Serifos itself is a small island in the Aegean Sea located in the west in the Cyclades island chain. The coastline of the island is quite indented, but in the south there are several bays in which you can take refuge while waiting for Meltemi – a strong dry north wind.
The pride of the islanders is the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus, and the legendary Odysseus, to boot. There is Cape Cyclops on the island, with a magnificent panoramic view; the throne of the Cyclops – a giant chair made of large stones and … the cave of the Cyclops, yes, yes, and there is one here too. It was in it that Odysseus and his comrades were allegedly locked up, captured by the terrible Cyclops Polyphemus.
In Greek mythology, Serifos became the refuge of the beautiful Danaë and her son Perseus, the legendary conqueror of the Gorgon.
Little has changed here since the time when Perseus returned with the head of Medusa and turned the inhabitants of this island into stone. Serifos is not overly affected by tourism.
You might not notice from the sea that a new three-storey building has appeared on the rocky coast. The project was named NCaved. The house in the rock has no external form. It’s something built into the slope – a cozy sea-view hideaway that’s designed with the harsh coastal wind in mind. The decision to drill the slope instead of building a house on the ground came naturally.
NCaved is made of concrete and earthy stone. The interior and exterior spaces of the house are composed of vertical curbs. This enhances the sense of perspective, because the gaze of the observer involuntarily leaves the horizon.
The architects explain that they tried to “create a three-dimensional ‘checkerboard’ of solids and voids that contains and at the same time insulates living parts.” This is why NCaved has no real form – it is a collection of connected underground spaces, a series of volumes carved out of rock.
To recreate the roughness and texture of the earth, a variety of warm colors and materials were used during construction. Stone, concrete, wood and metal were used to create rough inner shells. This palette has flowed seamlessly into the interior, where smooth materials are combined with stone walls.
The frontal glazed part of the house faces east, while the windows located at the back of the house provide access to natural light. This helps to fill the underground house with sun and warmth. Concrete stairs follow the curves of the rocks.
The house is divided into three levels: a living room with a pool, bedrooms and a guest house upstairs. The first two floors are connected by an internal “air” staircase. And the guest house that is independent – a massive external staircase leads to it.
Some islands remain intrinsically unchanged. One of them is Serifos. This is the place for those looking for something that goes beyond the usual trendy resorts. A continuous chain of rocks, landscapes that change depending on the lighting – this place attracts, leaving memories.
Since Serifos is located between a number of other islands, it is ideal for trips with multiple stops; you can leisurely move from one island to another.
And finally, it is worth remembering that houses in the rocks are not new, but well forgotten and unforgotten, old. On the slopes of Odessa’s Shkodovaya Mountain, deep structures in the rocks are still preserved. They are sometimes called “cave houses”. And they appeared several centuries ago, when the Cossacks fled from the devastated Zaporozhye Sich. The first houses like that appeared around 1775 and were inhabited by stonecutters. The dwellings created right inside the rock had one outer wall with windows and a door. The houses had several rooms, a stove with a chimney. The surface of the earth for such dwellings became a roof, and when the stove was heated, it was possible to see how jets of smoke come out directly from the ground.
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