milimetdesign updated 27/06/2011
Project address: Imerovigli, Santorini 84700, Greece
Architects: Divercity & Mplusm
Principal Architects: Divercity – Nikolas Travasaros // Mplusm – Memos Filippidis & Marita Nikoloutsou
Dates of design: 2007-2008
Dates of construction: 2008- 2010
Client: Grace Hotels Group
Interior Designers: Divercity & Mplusm
Space consultant: Sophia Vantaraki
Photographers: ©Erieta Attali & ©Serge Detalle
How could one revive vernacular architecture in such an exceptional setting as Imerovigli, Santorini, with its view of Caldera, opposite the Skaros rock? Because generally rooms to rent at Caldera simulate the vernacular by cloning indefinitely vaulted roofs. However at Santorini Grace, we have used no vaults: the layout of rooms follows in plan the broken geometries of the ground’s contours, forming in effect a series of new stone ledges in the steep drop of Caldera. These jagged lines converge in mid-slope, at the level which produces the greatest possible width within the site and it is at this level that the pool, the restaurant and the bar of the hotel are situated.
On the exterior, stone walls create a rhythm of black and white for the hotel: Some of the new rooms have acquired for their elevation a face of the region’s recognizable volcanic rock with gaps from which rays of light are allowed to pass. This reinterpretation of the vernacular stone walls ensures ventilation and privacy from passersby guests, since rooms are typically front loaded at the Caldera front and fully open to the view. In these rooms, the recesses of elevation form small private open spaces for contemplating the view. Being in the interior of these rooms you are not just surrounded by the usual Cycladic plastered white interior but you also perceive the volcanic rock façade, a potent reminder of the particular island you are located. Thick walls, another element of Santorini’s historic towers and fortresses, are introduced in the hotel as a wall thickness that accommodates several built-in furnishings such as wardrobes and vanity. The concrete floors of the rooms retain the earthy palette of colors –together with the black and red stones in the walls they form a dialogue with the island’s unique geological section as exposed on the Caldera front.
The idea of a black cavernal space in equivalence to the special geology of the island has been maintained in the interior not only of the reception but also at the restaurant and the bar: on the background of the reception desk a stone wall has been built from black volcanic stones with remarkable voids, resembling the ones applied to some of the rooms of the hotel. The background of the restaurant and bar area is painted in the dark color of the volcanic stones and its prismatic geometry resembles a rocky landscape. This background embraces the long seating bench behind the tables, the facade of the show kitchen window as well as the wine rack. The wine rack is metallic and equipped with rows of circular holes for the horizontal placement of the bottles, holes that on an abstract level resemble the gaps between the black volcanic stones -red led lighting behind those holes simulate the warmth of Santorini’s volcano. The choice of exposed (unpainted) metal for this wine rack and for the reception desk itself (an angular construction that folds to itself) in proximity to the dark grey of the surrounding walls returns to the basic palette of the stratified Caldera section where black and warm grays complement warm brown tones.
Santorini Grace Hotel is shortlisted for the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2011 and it is shortlisted for the World Architecture Awards (WAN Awards) Hotel of the Year 2011. It has also been given many accolades and awards: it was included in Tatler Travel Guide’s 101 Best Hotels in the World 2011, it was shortlisted for The European Hotel Design Awards 2010, selected for Conde Nast Traveller’s Hot List of the World’s Best New Hotels 2009 and at the World Travel Awards it won Greece’s Leading Boutique of 2009.