Project: Tainaron Blue Retreat
Architects: Kostas Zouvelos, Kassiani Theodorakakou
Location: Lakonia, Greece
Area: 2,055 sq ft
Photographs by: George Meitner
Tainaron Blue Retreat by Kostas Zouvelos and Kassiani Theodorakakou
The Tainaron Blue Retreat is a 19th century fortified tower that has recently been converted into a hotel by the Greek architects Kostas Zouvelos and Kassiani Theodorakakou. It is located in Lakonia, Greece on a parcel of land that offers stunning overlooking views of the coast and the sea.
But don’t be fooled just because the building itself dates back to the 19th century. This guest house is incredibly modern on the inside as well as its outdoor additions that have been built to keep up with the original masonry.
The towers, these imposing tall and narrow prisms, are the most stubborn and absolute expression of Mani building. On the outskirts of the settlements, the “xemonia” were erected in order to defend or expand the land property. They served to control, exclude or drive out the opponents, but also to transfer the pressure from the main settlement to new territories.
Tainaron Blue Retreat is a representative sample of traditional xemonia of the South. The tower – now transformed into a small guest house – is facing a similar construction, which had also been a strong fortified complex. Both together, they controlled the road to the area around Tainaron. The war tower is built on solid ground and rocks known as “rizomies”, at a strategic spot that offers an amazing view of the sea and the hinterland.
The restoration of the traditional building solved form issues in relation to the old texture of the masonry, so that the final look of the tower gives the impression of a building that emerges from the rock, upon which it is founded. The grouting internally and externally was done with real “kourasani” or Roman mortar (a combination of Theraic soil, ceramic powder, lime and a special shade of river sand) and minimum amount of cement, which enhances the static adequacy of the masonry and ensures durability.
The conversion of the tower into a guest house had to overcome considerable difficulties. The reason was the need for a high degree of adaptation to the specific characteristics of the regional architecture and at the same time the demand for accommodation in rooms with modern aesthetic perception. The four floors, with their relatively limited interior spaces that comprise of three bedrooms with bathroom and shared kitchen, breakfast and reception space, are organized along a vertical axis, allowing guests to have the unique experience of moving through narrow openings (“waterfalls”), wooden stairs or rocks protruding from the walls and arches (“steps”).
As the formation of the exterior spaces had to ensure minimum interference, the addition of a water surface area adapted to the specific environment and respected the topography of the landscape, resulting in an even and unified set of buildings and space with intensity and character.
Tainaron Blue Hotel has been awarded the Special Committee Award for Overall Rating, at the 100% Hotel Design Awards 2015.