Do you want to build your dream home in Greece? How important is it to take into account terrain, climate, culture and history?
And why do you need to decide quite early on whether you want to live in your house all year or just in the summer?
There are many questions that you will have to ask yourself or give the answer to the architect / construction engineer you are going to work with.
Our partner Jamie Anderson (see presentation below link here) architect from Mani, Peloponnese answers the most common questions and concerns.
The interview below is in English but if you have specific questions for Jamie then you can mail them to me in Swedish, of course.
Build your dream home in Greece: tips from architects in Mani
EK: Hi again Jamie. You and your team work with different projects in different countries. How important it is to know the terrain and climate, when someone wants to build their own dream house in Greece?
YES: Each project differs in many ways but we still have to tackle some common issues such as the ones outlined in your question.
For me they are all equally important when working in Greece, where the culture and history play such an important role. If we were to address them one by one, it is probably best.
The terrain often guides the first few steps of the design process and helps us to arrive at the initial concept, dealing with the access, volumes and orientation of the building, to make the most of what is naturally provided by the country.
The climate is also a major factor and the building has to adapt to work with it and make the most of the orientation as well as the natural shade and prevailing winds at different times of the year.
Decisions such as wall construction, sizes of openings and shading structures all play a major role in working with the local climate.
EK: What about knowledge of culture and history?
YES: The culture and history of a major role in defining the local architecture. More often than not, the past ways of life influenced the layout of homes as well as the materials used, sizes of openings and construction details.
Our way of living has changed dramatically, but I believe that there is still much to be learned from the past. In my eyes, the goal is to achieve a balance between the past and present, providing today's needs while celebrating and borrowing from the architecture of the previous generations, whether through subtle or indeed more obvious references.
EK: How much do you need to know about your clients before you can deliver them to construction drawings?
YES: It is of key importance to agree on a project letter as early as possible in the design process. Ideally this letter would cover three main areas.
Firstly, a list of spaces should be made that the house should contain ie bedrooms, bathroom, study etc. Secondly, it is a good idea to describe the intended use of the house and the importance of the spaces for the way you live .
For example, the most important spaces may be the kitchen and main porch for one client and the living room and master bedroom for another.
We all live in different ways; this has to do with personal preference and will lead to a different design solution in each case.
Finally, it can be useful to share a series of inspirational images for the house, although in some cases clients may decide to leave this entirely to the architect.
EK: When Elias and I lived in Sweden, most of our "home-time" was inside, because of the weather of course. Do you need to often explain to your customers that outside is perhaps more important than inside?
YES: This is indeed something that you can really appreciate in Greece, especially if you are used to the Northern European climate. For the majority of the year, you can live comfortably outside. You can extend the size of your home for around X-NUMX months per year.
It is definitely something that we discuss at the beginning of the design process as well as the need for shady outdoor spaces. The initial enthusiasm for sun-drenched outdoor spaces quickly wears off in the height of summer. Ideally you would have a mixture of full shade, light shade and entirely open spaces to be used at different times of the day and months of the year.
EK: "Home" is not similar to the beautiful pictures in architectural magazines or am I wrong?
YES: Each person has a very different definition of home.
For some it is a place full of their favorite items, memories and people, while for others it is very simple and minimal space.
An open fireplace can remind them of their childhood memories, while others may prefer under floor heating system, hidden from sight.
I personally see beauty in both of these approaches and I believe that a successful project is one that is able to reflect the client's own, personal idea or home.
Our aim is to make a space that our client feels completely comfortable in, both spatially and spiritually and allows home to happen.
A beautiful home is the result of a good, well thought out design, specific to the needs of the client, combined with the final specifications and the quality construction of the building.
To have a successful end result, you need to combine both of these elements; however in my opinion first and foremost should be the design.
EK: What a beautiful home cost?
YES: A well-designed house with cheaper finishes will be very enjoyable home to live in; However, you can spend as much money as you can at poorly designed homes and never improve the space. The first step is to achieve the best design possible, following which good choices of materials and fittings can be made to suit every budget.
Where budget is a limiting factor, it can be a good idea to give emphasis to some specific elements that will make a big difference to the final result, as a beautiful floor at the entrance and main living space.