One word keeps coming up when Atelier Bow-Wow’s Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and property developer and entrepreneur Iasson Tsakonas discuss their latest venture: timeless. The project is Peninsula House, Tsakonas’ own holiday home on the small Greek island of Antiparos. His company, Oliaros, is already behind a project of 55 new villas set within the rough beauty of the Cycladic island – construction is still underway, with 29 villas already completed, but all are sold apart from two properties that will launch in 2023. The company has made a name for its design-led approach, working with architects such as 98-year-old Greek modernist Nicos Valsamakis, Sou Fujimoto and Bjarke Ingels Group to create houses to be let or sold. However, Peninsula is home to Tsakonas and his family (his wife, Argyro Pouliovali, is the founder of ARP, an emerging Athens studio and Greece’s 2022 entry to the Wallpaper* Architects Directory).
Peninsula House: the story
‘I bought the land in 2006, and selected the Atelier Bow-Wow design in 2008. I had always planned Peninsula to be my future family house. When I married Argyro, we checked out all the alternative options from Oliaros’ portfolio and agreed to keep Peninsula, making certain adjustments so it would work better for our family.’ Tsakonas has worked with Atelier Bow-Wow’s co-founders Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima before, so they have a particularly smooth and synergetic working relationship.
Peninsula’s design works within Oliaros’ property development approach, prioritising homes that are low-impact and work as part of a larger, well-considered masterplan, ultimately maintaining the island’s identity while converting it into a new architectural destination. Along the same lines, this is not only a thoroughly contemporary home, but also a piece of architecture that remains in meaningful dialogue with its context, and respectfully nods to the spartan nature of the region’s traditional Greek architecture.
‘This is the first house we have designed on the island – and the third built,’ Tsukamoto says. ‘I have been there many times. I enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle and architecture, especially the vernacular architecture that comes out from this harsh environment. It’s beautiful, but it’s not gentle nature. And I appreciate Iasson’s idea to preserve the landscape by developing properties distanced from each other – all are somehow coordinated, there is consistency.’ Atelier Bow-Wow’s ongoing fascinations and research into local construction methods, materials and techniques feed into this project, as it draws loose parallels between simple and yet detail-driven Japanese architecture and the Cycladic vernacular.
The house comprises two volumes, brought together by a careful composition of outdoor areas with the help of celebrated Athens landscape architecture firm Doxiadis+. There is a serpentine network of terraces, al fresco seating areas, open-air circulation routes and a very important water element in the shape of a long swimming pool that connects the property’s two stone volumes. ‘Central to Atelier Bow-Wow’s response was the water canal connecting and running through the “ruin”, the open-air BBQ pavilion, and “the village”, the family building, which I immediately bought into,’ says Tsakonas. While the pandemic meant that the architects were not able to visit the site as much as they’d like, local architect Stefanos Nassopoulos and the Oliaros technical team head Christos Kaklamanis helped make sure everything was finished to high standards.
The Peninsula House interiors
Inside, the whitewashed walls and light concrete floors are complemented by Tsakonas’ extensive collection of art and design. An avid collector, Tsakonas started purchasing pieces while working in real estate in Azerbaijan. When he returned to Athens to set up Oliaros in 2001, his passion for collecting grew, resulting in an extensive mix of contemporary art, design, ceramics and Azeri rugs totalling over 500 pieces. Here, the furniture and art blend together seamlessly, uniting new and heritage pieces in a mix that feels effortless and transcends eras.
The terrace’s marble pattern is a good example of this. The architects drew on traditional Japanese gardens and calligraphy, and the result brings to mind the work of Greek architect Dimitris Pikionis, who worked on the landscaping around the Acropolis in the 1950s, and was similarly inspired by Japanese garden traditions. ‘I want Peninsula House to be an example of contemporary Greek architecture with a Japanese hand – not showy, not about statements,’ adds Tsakonas. ‘The statement is simply its timeless elegance, irrespective of scale.’
A version of this article appears in the December 2022 issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today (opens in new tab)
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