five houses at parnassus

European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2013, Nominated,

and International Design Awards, MEA2013, Shortlisted.

Parnassus Mountain is a wild landscape with steep peaks, hidden valleys and sweeping vistas, which hosts the largest Ski Center in Greece. The five vacation houses are located near a natural rocky stream, amongst fir and chestnut trees. The challenge here was to make an environmentally responsive architecture that blends with its surroundings. Like a grown-up tree, each house rises three storeys and is cupped off with a timber lean roof covered with green asphaltic tiles. Living areas are on the upper two levels, visually and physically connected to take advantage of unobstructed mountain views while bedrooms, bathrooms and sauna are on the first level.

The choice of materials reflects the colours of nature, with local stone and chestnut timber cladding that comes from renewable plantations, sealed in plant-based oils and beeswax. Carefully oriented openings offer natural cross ventilation, while the entirely glazed upper level enhances stack effect and the sense of being out amongst the treetops. An energy fireplace that allows heat to be ducted to the whole house maximizes passive heating. Excellent insulation is achieved by half-sinking the sleeping area into the ground, while the use of concrete and timber in construction keeps the houses thermally stable. Rainwater is collected and re-used in the gardens, which are open to encourage social life and outdoor activities to the inhabitants.

The project was selected for the "Energy Athens" exhibition organized by the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies in collaboration with Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.


built area : 750m² (150m² each)

location : Arachova, Parnassus

project status : 2013 completed

collaborators : Vangelis Hatzis - Architect