At first sight, this house in Madliena with its wonderful sea views and luxury features, was a winner but on closer inspection, many challenges were revealed. ‘Although adorned with high-end finishes including an indoor pool, a lot of the materials were damaged by damp, leading to unpleasant internal spaces which were also dark and badly ventilated,’ says Anthea Huber from Archi+, who was tasked with transforming the property into a comfortable home. ‘From a budget point of view, being presented with an existing fabric with bad detailing and finishes was a bigger challenge than having a blank slate as we had to work within tight parameters.’
The challenges were skilfully overcome however, as today the house is an eye-catching example of statement design, from its imposing modernist-style exterior to its expansive interior with its comfortable and chic living spaces.
The work took three years, Archi+ working from the ground up to consolidate and repair, as well as add a first-floor extension for extra living spaces that took advantage of the views. ‘The daytime living areas were moved upstairs, linking the external entertainment area (pool area) with the living area,’ explains Anthea. ‘The rooms on the elevated ground floor are dedicated to the sleeping quarters and ancillary facilities while the ground level is dedicated to the helper’s flatlet, a home office (which is very well separated from the rest of house), and an indoor pool with a sauna room. The latter was originally located at this level and we found it important to respect the original fabric and alternatively invest in a good heating and ventilation system for both indoor and sauna room – a big challenge.’
Connecting the floors is a striking black staircase. ‘As the stairwell is located close to the main entrance, we really wanted to have a stunning welcoming factor and as the homeowner is a big fan of the colour black, we decided to have this black volume as the focus of the interior and use it to link all three levels,’ says Anthea.
Black is continued into the spacious open-plan living area with an all-black kitchen at one end and accents found throughout the living and dining areas including on the frames of the long narrow windows; these cleverly frame the sea views whilst cutting out the visual clutter of the surrounding rooftops. An unusual floor-level window is used to separate the old and new parts of the house. ‘The latter seems to be resting over the white volume through the introduction of this slit window,’ says Anthea.
When considering the colour palette, the studio did their research. ‘We did a photographic analysis of the neighbourhood, to get a better feel for the proportions already present in the area,’ says Anthea. ‘From this study, we also noticed that the typical materials found locally were not the best fit for our project, for example, stone claddings quickly lose their sheen and deteriorate when used in proximity to the sea. We also wanted to move away from the usual treatment of villas, that are typically clad in marble.’
The house is finished with an off-shutter concrete finish that’s achieved by setting concrete beneath wooden planks which, when removed, leaves a textured look. Explains Anthea: ‘It may be a basic material but it creates a contemporary feeling that is also timeless for a home that will look as good in years to come as it does now.’