Nikaia House : By Christina Zerva Architects

Posted on October 11, 2010

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Larissa, Nikaia, Greece

By Ingrid Spencer-via:archrecord

Photo © Mihajlo Savic
This house by Greek architect Christina Zerva in Greece’s Larissa prefecture, in the suburb of Nikaia, may be built atop a site that has been inhabited since the tenth millennium B.C., and may look out at Mount Olympus, but its design is anything but ancient. Consisting of two cubic forms connected by a glass bridge, the 2,637-square-foot house, which sits on nearly an acre of land, is a dream home to Zerva’s clients—a young lawyer, her businessman husband, and their two young children. The couple, who work in the city of Larissa, about six miles away, wanted a sustainably-designed house away from traffic, pollution, and noise. “Our goal was to build a comfortable and functional green home with enough space for each member of the family,” says Zerva. “The idea was to provide space that is separate but coherent.” 

Photo © Mihajlo Savic
Typical houses in the region are made of conventional bricks, with wood frames and red clay roof tiles. This steel-framed house was constructed out of prefabricated, aerated concrete blocks. “These blocks have optimum fire resistance, have low CO2 emissions, and act as perfect insulation during both the warm summers and cold winters typical for this region,” says Zerva. Inside the 23-foot-high  main volume, which contains the living, dining, and kitchen areas, the steel skeleton, which included diagonally placed ceiling beams, is visible. Free-form drywall space dividers take the place of conventional walls, making ceiling and window geometries apparent from everywhere in the space, and giving the volume an industrial feel. Recycled  and sustainable products and strategies were used throughout, from the bamboo floors inside, to the bamboo-composite decking outside, to photovoltaic panels on the roof, to LED lighting both inside and out. “Low energy consumption was very important to us and our client,” says Zerva, who also designed furniture for the house, such as the low, rectangular bamboo coffee tables in the living room.


Photo © Mihajlo Savic
Layers of shapes continue upstairs, where the master bedroom, laundry room, and bathroom are located in the main volume. The secondary cube-shaped pavilion houses the children’s bedrooms, one level for each. The clients admit that they were a bit wary at first about the idea of an attached-but-separate pavilion on two floors for the children, but say they warmed to the concept when they realized the pavilion would only be down a short corridor from their bedroom. “For now my son and daughter share the upstairs bedroom,” says their father. “And for them, having a 400-square-foot room to play in is a dream come true. My son will move downstairs to his own room in a few years. But for now, by having their own toy paradise they haven’t yet discovered the possibility of an even bigger playground in our living room!”


Photo © Mihajlo Savic 

No need for that! Zerva’s plan included locating the house on the north side of the rectangular site to create a huge outside play area for the family. Landscaping is part of the development plan, but for now, Zerva’s clients say their kids have turned the yard into “Disneyland.” “We barbeque on weekends, and have our friends over with their children,” they say. “The fact that we are living in such an environment full of fresh air, open space, and sun, both inside the house and out, it’s the best investment we could have made for our family.”


Photo © Mihajlo Savic  


Photo © Mihajlo Savic

Photo © Mihajlo Savic 


Photo © Mihajlo Savic 

Photo © Mihajlo Savic

Photo © Mihajlo Savic

Photo © Mihajlo Savic 

Image courtesy Christina Zerva Architects

Image courtesy Christina Zerva Architects
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