The Mirage house by Kois Associated Architects is a splendid example of architectural work that integrates seamlessly into the surrounding environment. The main aim of the Mirage’s construction, was not only to design a fully functioning living space, but one that fully integrates into the surroundings. After looking at the house, one will agree that the architects have created a work of art in the process and successfully achieved the goal of camouflaging the structure against the backdrop of Greece’s Tinos Island.
Tinos is one of the northern Cycladic islands found in the Aegean Sea. Not only is it enchanting with beautiful sandy beaches and traditional villages, it’s rocky. Most of the islands to be found here are literally, big rocks that jut out of the sea. The island gives you a feeling of being wind-swept and rugged. It also happens to be one of the least visited of this group of islands, being still largely unknown to the majority of tourists, which contributes to a continued seclusion, quietness, and privacy on the island, which cannot be found on the others.
When the Athens studio, Kois Associated Architects were drawing up plans for the Mirage, the project’s architect, Nikos Patsiaouras, had to keep in mind major concern of the clients, namely, visibility and privacy. The firm started by asking the question, how do we make an invisible building? Their solution was to mimic the landscape in design terms and architectural form, thereby creating “an invisible oasis”.
The location chosen for the Mirage is a natural plateau on the south-western part of Tinos island, a place characterized by extremely rocky terrain, low brush, and wild growing herbs like mountain tea gives the air a spa-like atmosphere with natural aromatherapy. The landscape then steeply descends to the deep blue Aegean sea. An additional benefit of the site is that it offers protection from prevailing winds.
The location chosen affords mesmerizing and meditative panoramic views of the sea below that seems to go on forever, unobstructed by anything except the occasional seagull that flies by. So how did the team actually go about building the house? Well they buried part of it into the ground for starters, and left a major part of the house – the living room – unbounded by walls and open-air; thus, what one might consider a porch, in this case, is perceived as actual living space. It’s worth being mentioned that the digging was done in a minimally invasive way to the landscape.
Perhaps the key, and coolest, part of the entire design is the rooftop. There is genius in its simplicity and is the key to blending the entire design with the adjacent terrain. The sound of a giant black square may not sound so elegant, but when viewed you’ll have to be convinced otherwise; there’s beauty in the four corners that also doubles as a giant rooftop pool that seemingly extends in from the sea. The pool is lined with a dark material and color which not only efficiently heats the water, but it also acts as a huge mirror, creating visual unity with the topography.
According to the architects, the project got its name from “the visual effect of the mirroring of the pool in combination with the concept of invisibility brought to mind the visual phenomena of the mirage.”
Stone is a common building material on the Cycladic islands and has been used in the construction of homes since time immemorial. The architects kept with this tradition, and used stone for parts of the interior and entrance of the building. And considering the ground is all rock and stone, is the perfect choice in the unification of the structure with the environment here. Obviously, the best choice is a single-storey layout, which consists of three bedrooms, kitchen, and the previously stated outdoor living room.
Earthen walls and vegetation will be added around certain sides of the building to help create a natural cooling and air conditioning-like system. All of the details that accumulate into the Mirage, including local materials for low environmental impact, make the Mirage, a very harmonious, smart, and stylish house indeed. Imagine having all the stars on a dark and starry night reflecting in the pool. Hopefully, the Mirage goes up for sale one day, and I can afford to buy it.