Residential building in Varkiza

08 March, 2009

Residential building in Varkiza

This project aimed towards the creation of a small, though outstanding and unique residential building complex in the already densely built area of Varkiza.

Gavalas Architects & Associates

Greek version

Design and construction by Gavalas architects & associates
Thomas Gavalas, Dora Monioudi-Gavala, Antonis Gavalas

Structural Engineer: Nikos Piteros
Mechanical Engineers: Gavalas architects & associates
Location : Pandora's Street 6, Varkiza, Athens
Document : Antonis Gavalas
Photographs : Antonis Gavalas
Design & planning application: 2006
Construction: 2007 - 2008

On the 379 m2 site, the building was positioned semi-attached on the side of the vertical circulation core, leaving the maximum possible distance from the road and allowing the creation of a spacious pool-garden. Additionally, the functional articulation of the rest of living areas around the core, allows direct view on the surrounding green spaces.


Two maisonettes and two individual floor apartments in combination with their semi-private spaces, balconies and gardens were made looking externally like a unique and geometrically harmonic well carved sculpture, made easy to understand its phenomenically complex architectural context.

A building which is characterized by egoism and intensity that derives from its strong vertical and horizontal architectural gestures. The latter create a feeling that the building volumes are in a constant move and dialog between each other.

Design principles                                                                       
The design was based on a 2 x 2 m grid that was applied both in plans and elevations. The articulation of the grid resulted the correct proportions of all spaces internally and externally as well as the important aspect of aesthetical balance on the facades.


Another important aspect in the economy on the circulation areas within each apartment in order to gain additional m2 on the living, dining and bedrooms, thus the main entrance is positioned in the middle of the floor plan.
The apertures were located in such a way that the occupant has clear view of all the green spaces surrounding the project but not the other buildings.

The facades comprise of a mosaic of solid elements, voids on the main building volume, large glazed parts and metal louvers. All the prementioned elements and transferred by one modular on the above and underneath floors giving the impression of an even-moving puzzle.


Special care was given to the rehabilitation of the existing vegetation on site. Most of the surrounding space of the building was covered again with grass, low and high vegetation. Additionally, a pool on ground floor and a Jacuzzi on the roof-garden were created in order to intonate the presence of water.

Whiteness in combination with intense though elegant colors are blending together with the dominant presence of timber on the decks and balcony ceilings.


Major chapter during the design as well as the construction of the project was the application of passive means of sustainability, such as control of solar heat gains and envelope heat loss, shading, the type of vegetation according to orientation, increased thermal insulation, selection of external surfaces colors and natural ventilation.


Detailed thermal insulation aided the avoidance of thermal bridges on the building's envelope while the apertures were positioned diagonally between parallel facades to achieve better natural cross-ventilation.
Additional layer of polystyrene insulation was added on the sensitive during summer west elevation in combination with almost no windows. Vertical tents on the north-east and south east elevation provide a second layer of wind and solar protection in collaboration with tall evergreen trees on the north which reduce the effect of the prevailing cold winter wind.

White colored facades and the deck which works as a ventilated double skin on the roof garden assist the reduction of cooling load.

Structure & materials 
The main structure is made of steel reinforced concrete and the materials used are:

- Rapinated Dionysus marble tiles in combination with massif Iroko deck on the gardens and the circulation areas.
- Massif American oak parquet floors in all apartment spaces apart of bathrooms.
- Corian kitchen benches and colored satinated MDF on the kitchen and bedroom draws.
- Energy efficient fireplaces with warm air circulation shafts.
- Triplex glazing and metal louvers on the balconies.
- Low U-value Aloumil window frames.


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