situated in the traditional village of oia, and boasting a prominent position on santorini‘s caldera, kapsimalis architects has realized ‘saint hotel’. known for its rugged landscape that was shaped by an ancient volcano, the island’s cave suites have become a popular haven for tourists. this recent project saw the reconstruction of existing buildings on the cliffside to create an idyllic hotel complex in keeping with classic cycladic architecture.
all images © giorgos sfakianakis
the existing caves on the site had previously been used as storage areas, barns and cellars. there was also an old cubist residence in the north-east corner of the plot. given the ruined condition of the buildings, kapsimalis architects worked to restore and redesign the structures. the new hotel program comprises a small reception, sixteen suites, a restaurant, a common pool area and a spa/gym. built over six levels, the finished complex boasts unobstructed views, providing guests with the ultimate santorini experience.
the entrance to saint hotel is located on the upper level of the complex and can be reached on foot via the main pedestrian street in oia. on this level the outdoor lounge area can also be found. an external staircase cuts through the middle of the scheme and provides a central circulation route. this path connects the various private suites before arriving at the lowest level, which contains the restaurant and the infinity pool area, as well as the spa reception, a small gym, massage rooms, hammam, sauna booths, w/c, storage areas and a private relaxation space on the cliff edge.
when approaching the project kapsimalis architects sought to create a contemporary architecture that makes reference to the cubist morphology of the previous residence, while also remaining sensitive to the caldera landscape. the restored caves therefore retain important aspects of traditional cycladic buildings, such as the use of white and a human scale. the new intervention does, however, rotate the openings to better frame the panorama.
when viewed from above, one can appreciate how the new hotel complex folds into the terrain. the completed suites gently fit into the environment and the existing contours of the site.
inside, the interior follows the same minimal approach. white has been applied to every surface, with only the subtlest touches of gold and green added. the resulting spaces bring a focus to the blue sea outside and the curved ceilings of the rooms. overall, the design by kapsimalis architects is a contemporary take on cycladic architecture that offers an idyllic place to enjoy the beautifully scenic greek island.
project name: saint hotel
location: oia, santorini, greece
architecture & interior design: kapsimalis architects (2015-2019)
photography: giorgos sfakianakis
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edited by: lynne myers | designboom