Designers: LASSA: Theo Sarantoglou Lalis (Principal) and Dora Sweijd (Principal) with Kasper Ax (Associate), Yousef Al Mehdari, Theo Grousopoulos, Thomas Jensen, Valeria Garcia, Nikolaos Klimentidis, Greg Spaw, Luke Tan,Yu Zheng; Local Architect (Permit) : V. Kosmopoulos; Structural Engineer: Metep, L. Babilis; Formwork Engineer: Nous, Manja van De Worp.; Formwork Construction: LASSA; General Contractor: Triedkat: V. Leriou; Programme: Summer House; Total Area: 150 sqm; LASSA Website: lassa-architects.com; Design team: Photography: NAARO;
Villa Ypsilon is a summer residence nestled in a hillside olive grove in the southern Peloponnese. The project brings together design that engages the body and the triggering of senses and an approach to architectural practice that aims to democratise bespoke construction. Villa Ypsilon is characterised by its green roof shell, acting as an accessible extension of the terrain, and framing the most significant views of the site from inside and out. The bifurcating pathways of the shell define three courtyards, forming distinct hemispheres with unique occupancy following the course of the sun throughout the day. The crest of the shell ties in with the hillside landscape; rising just to the height of the surrounding olive trees and integrating the foreground qualities with background vistas of the bay of Schiza and Sapientza, as well as mountain views toward the east. The interior is defined by two primary spaces – a more private area, containing three bedrooms and two bathrooms with views to the east, and a more common area toward the south, containing kitchen and living room areas, which provide balanced access to all three courtyards. The organisation is designed so you may circulate with ease through, around and on top of the villa, establishing a continuous promenade that links indoor and outdoor activities. The remote location of the project in combination with the limited budget (350.000 Eur) and non-standard geometry induced a construction strategy that called for a large amount of off-site prefabrication and self-assembly which allowed to reduce the construction time to 7 months without compromising anything in terms of quality or exceeding the budget. This hands-on’ approach allowed for a minimal use of commercial ‘off-the-shelf’ products while instead favouring a local supply chain. Designing Occupancy: The iterative design of the shell through its shadow analysis was aimed at designing occupancy and activating the use of the courtyards throughout the day. The west courtyard is in the shade until 11:30 for breakfast, then the shade shifts to the east courtyard from 12:30 where people can have lunch, and finally the shade shifts to the south in the afternoon. This specific choreography of the shadows invites the users to explore the whole periphery of the house and the variety of experiences: the agrarian landscape, the distant mountain views and the panoramic views of the sea. Environmental Response: Geometry vs mechanical systems: The resulting environmental strategy of the project favored the development of climate resilient geometry rather than the use of mechanical systems. The form of the concrete shell, coupled with the planted roof and cross ventilation strategy, balances the reach of sunlight into the house across the summer and winter seasons and maintains a natural level of comfort. Partial Self construction and the re-skilling of the architect: LASSA’s team acquired a CNC machine that allowed for extensive prototyping and the production of all non-standard elements. This included: the concrete shell form work, the living room double-curved lost form work/acoustic ceiling, custom window frames, interior furniture and partition systems as well as landscape and pool formers. The parts were shipped to site and assembled by the architects themselves in only four days. The formwork was designed in such a way its assembly did not require the use of screws, tools or an instruction manual. Instead of using plans, sections and elevations as building instructions, the architects produced wood formers and formwork directly in the office. This experience suggests a complete rethinking of the role of the architect during the design, procurement and assembly stages while enhancing creativity. The project seeks to demonstrate the viability of non-standard construction using both digital design and manufacturing within economically tight constraints thus forming a new body of knowledge integrated within the architect’s office.