written by:
photos by:
April 24, 2013
Originally published in Global Style
as
Greece
A far cry from the whitewashed buildings of Mykonos, this vacation home on the Aegean island of Skiathos will make any modern design fan go Greek.
plane house greece outdoor pool

Stone walls, a pine tree exploding out of a deep overhang, iroko decking, outdoor rooms, a glassy swimming pool, and endless views of the sea make this home a paragon of indoor-outdoor living.

Photo by 
1 / 13
plane house greece deck

Life at the Plane House is all about relaxing and hanging out with friends for co-owner and Athenian Achilleas Mourtzouchos. Here he does a bit of lounge-side grilling on a modular Pure seating system by Viteo. Even the fire table and grill are part of the Austrian outdoor furniture company’s line.

Photo by 
2 / 13
plane house greece living room

A sliding wall in the living room pivots 90 degrees to reveal a small space near the door and to close off part of the room.

Photo by 
3 / 13
plane house greece living room

Achilleas and his girlfriend Alexia lounge on an Extrasoft sofa by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani.

Photo by 
4 / 13
plane house greece outdoor table

The Mourtzouchoses entertain constantly, which means that food is rarely far from anyone’s mind. Alexia sets a Tio table (with matching chairs) by Massproductions, over which hangs a thatch of dried palm fronds.

Photo by 
5 / 13
plane house greece hallway

Both master bedrooms are accessible from the large deck and a covered walkway and garden tucked behind them.

Photo by 
6 / 13
plane house greece kitchen

Alexia, Achilleas, and friend Fotini prepare lunch in the kitchen, outfitted with cabinets by Zeyko.

Photo by 
7 / 13
plane house greece bathroom bathtub

A UFO bathtub by Benedini Associati for Agape lends an alien touch to one of the master bathrooms.

Photo by 
8 / 13
plane house greece driveway

In an effort to root the home to its location, the team elected to use dry-stacked slate quarried from a nearby island for much of the main structure. “These walls are common in the Pelion area of Greece,” says Achilleas.

Photo by 
9 / 13
plane house greece outdoor furniture

Made from white aluminum and oiled teak, the wooden sun loungers are from Viteo’s Pure collection. The long low table is made of Corian by DuPont and comes from the same line of outdoor furniture.

Photo by 
10 / 13
plane house greece outdoor grill

Achilleas and his friend Jovi tend the grill, which was Achilleas’s own design and is supported by a concrete beam—cast with slate stones embedded in it—just above the opening.

Photo by 
11 / 13
plane house greece living room

The living room, sports a trio of Shell chairs by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son.

Photo by 
12 / 13
plane house greece floor plan

Completed in 2011, the two-story Plane House—
a wordplay riffing on its simplicity and strong, horizontal lines—now caters to what Konstantinos calls two “speeds” of life.

Photo by 
13 / 13
plane house greece outdoor pool

Stone walls, a pine tree exploding out of a deep overhang, iroko decking, outdoor rooms, a glassy swimming pool, and endless views of the sea make this home a paragon of indoor-outdoor living.

Project 
Plane House
Architect 

“My dream was of a summerhouse whose design 
alone, rather than any added-on decoration, made it beautiful,” says Athenian Achilleas Mourtzouchos, who, with his girlfriend, Alexia Leandros, brother Odysseas, and a passel of extended family and friends spends much of the summer here as well as long weekends the rest of the year.

The Plane House—an idyllic vacation home perched on a mountain on the Greek island of Skiathos—was a hugely personal and collaborative project between the Mourtzouchoses and another set of brothers, their architect buddies, Dimitris and Konstantinos Karampatakis, of Athens’s K-Studio. “I’ve followed his career closely,” says Achilleas of his childhood friend Konstantinos. “All I requested was two master bedrooms, one for Odysseas and one for myself, but otherwise I gave him total freedom. 
I trust Konstantinos completely.”

The Mourtzouchoses’ mother fell in love with relatively underdeveloped Skiathos through the writings of one of its native sons, the late-19th-century novelist Alexandros Papadiamantes. “My family bought the plot in 1996,” recalls Achilleas. “It included an incomplete building with a partially constructed concrete frame. Eventually, in 2006, 
we decided to finish it.”

plane house greece deck

Life at the Plane House is all about relaxing and hanging out with friends for co-owner and Athenian Achilleas Mourtzouchos. Here he does a bit of lounge-side grilling on a modular Pure seating system by Viteo. Even the fire table and grill are part of the Austrian outdoor furniture company’s line.

Completed in 2011, the two-story Plane House—
a wordplay riffing on its simplicity and strong, horizontal lines—now caters to what Konstantinos calls two “speeds” of life.

“The first for quiet, long weekends,” he explains, “the second, faster one for when it’s a guest-filled party home.” K-Studio designed the space to expand and contract accordingly. For guests, the lower floor houses a living room and four bedrooms. And when Achilleas is looking for some respite from the busier social areas of the home, he can retreat to one of the ground-floor master bedrooms, which are situated beyond the kitchen past an enclosed garden.

Although uncompromisingly modernist, the twin L-shapes of the house aren’t so much stark as they are serene, blending into a backdrop of pine trees. The home commands panoramic views of beaches, nature nudges its edges, and sustainable design informs its function. A tree shoots up through an opening in a wide overhang fronting part of the house, and the main entrance is carpeted in grass that grows through perforated concrete blocks allowing rainwater to hydrate the soil beneath. The planted roof diverts rainwater into a large tank (graywater hydrates the garden and fills the toilets) and an array of solar panels generates electricity.

plane house greece outdoor table

The Mourtzouchoses entertain constantly, which means that food is rarely far from anyone’s mind. Alexia sets a Tio table (with matching chairs) by Massproductions, over which hangs a thatch of dried palm fronds.

The omnipresence of the landscape is bolstered by an abundance of natural materials in the structure, from iroko wood decking on the sea-facing terrace and adjacent floors to drystone walls made of slate from the next island over. “I chose many of the materials,” says Achilleas, who studied electrical engineering at Boston University. “I was the project’s engineer, oversaw its construction, and helped build many custom elements.” These include a cast-concrete island in the kitchen and a TV stand incorporated into a white wall. This same wall, which normally separates the living room from a narrow space by the front entrance (often used by Odysseas as a DJ booth), can be rotated at a 90-degree angle to divide the area into two parts.

“I didn’t have previous knowledge of casting concrete, but I read up about this and other techniques and put them into practice. I’m very practical—and a perfectionist, unfortunately,” laughs Achilleas. “I even made sure the wooden planks inside and out form a continuous line. This creates the illusion of more space.”

From Konstantinos’s perspective, the house is about erasing the division between inside and out. “We wanted it to be as flat as possible, so we referred to California’s Case Study Houses—particularly their glass facades,” he explains. “Yet, this is a typical Greek summer-vacation house, where the attitude is about being very relaxed.” Skiathos, he continues, has no strong aesthetic architecturally, unlike Mykonos or Santorini, which boast boxy, whitewashed Cycladic-style buildings. This allowed him a freer hand in the design: One example of this is the house’s broad overhang, which keeps it blissfully cool in summer.

plane house greece living room

The living room, sports a trio of Shell chairs by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son.

Consistent with Achilleas’s taste for understatement, the furniture is primarily functional, informal, and in muted neutral hues. The squashy, modular Extrasoft sofa in the living room was designed by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani, and a fleet of low-lying Respaldo Reclinable chaise longues, which eschew conventional frames and 
rest on the ground, are by Gandia Blasco.

A typical summer day sees Achilleas and Alexia breakfasting in the kitchen with the windows thrown open; taking their boat to sea around 1 p.m.; dropping anchor and swimming; and then, around 5 p.m., hanging out with friends by the pool, sipping mojitos. The deck has its own alfresco setup: a dining table, barbecue, and an overhang whose idiosyncratic ceiling is made of makuti (dried palm fronds). “When sunlight streams through it onto someone’s face, the dappled effect is lovely,” rhapsodizes Achilleas.

He and Alexia began dating at an early stage of the project. “He once showed me pictures of it on his laptop,” she remembers. “His passion for it won me over. It’s one of the biggest parts of his life, and I’m so happy to be part of it.”

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

french evolution paris daniel rozensztroch living area eames la chaise butterfly chair moroccan berber rug
A tastemaker brings his distinct vision to an industrial loft with a centuries-old pedigree.
February 07, 2016
senses touch products
The haptic impact can’t be underplayed. The tactility of a material—its temperature, its texture­—can make the difference between pleasure and discontent.
February 07, 2016
senses smell products
The nose knows: Though fleeting and immaterial, scent is the lifeblood of Proustian memories, both evoking and imprinting visceral associations.
February 06, 2016
design icon josef frank villa beer vienna
Josef Frank: Against Design, which runs through April 2016 at Vienna’s Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, is a comprehensive study of the prolific architect, designer, and author.
February 06, 2016
senses sound products
From an alarm to a symphony, audio frequencies hold the power to elicit an emotional call-and-response.
February 06, 2016
Italian Apline home with double-height walls on one facade.
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
February 05, 2016
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
From a minimalist Walter Gropius design to a curving sculptural stair, these six stairways run the gamut.
February 05, 2016
distant structure lakeside prefab norway facade stones green roof
Dwell has traveled all over the world, from Tasmania to Indonesia, to report on modern houses.
February 05, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment master bedroom atrium
Get ready for a weekend of rest with these sleepy, little cocoons.
February 05, 2016
lamp show 99 cent plus gallery 0
At Brooklyn's 99¢ Plus gallery, 30 artists and designers re-imagine the lamp in an illuminating light show.
February 04, 2016
Hidden storage stairwell with raw brass hardware
Having ample space to stow items is a daily struggle—peep these modern homes for some ideas on maximizing your square footage.
February 04, 2016
modern fairhaven beach house blackbutt eucalyptus living room Patricia Urquiola sofa
Whether it's along a coast in Australia or the French Alps, wood provides a natural touch in these interiors.
February 04, 2016
Glass and steel sculpture in Printemps store of Paris.
In the Paris' venerable Printemps department store, two Toronto-based firms were tasked with enlivening a new atrium and creating a unique experience for visitors. YabuPushelberg, partnering with UUfie, designed this stunning steel "sail" embedded with vibrant dichroic glass.
February 04, 2016
Monochromatic Master Bedroom in Copenhagen Townhouse
Whether it's to maximize limited light or create a soothing interior, these five projects go white in a big way.
February 04, 2016
EQ3 Assembly quilt by Kenneth LaVallee
The new Assembly collection from EQ3 celebrates up-and-coming figures in Canadian design. Discover this newly appointed class, which debuted at Toronto's Interior Design Show, here.
February 03, 2016
The Greenhouses of Half Moon Bay
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most viral design and architecture shots of the week.
February 03, 2016
Deck of Australian addition to Edwardian home.
A 1,500-square-foot home in Melbourne welcomes a modern black and white kitchen, dining, and living area.
February 03, 2016
open plan concrete home in japan
Embracing the organic, imperfect material, these raw concrete surfaces are a step up from exposed brick.
February 03, 2016
Renovated DC Row House loft space with Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair.
The classic designer's signature and comfortable forms continue to be popular in homes today.
February 03, 2016
Zinc-roofed cabin France.
An architect builds an energy-efficient home near one of France’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
February 03, 2016
1973 Palm Springs home
Made for casual design enthusiasts and Palm Springs connoisseurs alike, Unseen Midcentury Desert Modern offers a peek into 51 buildings—some not open to the public—in that Southern California mecca of modernism. Begun in 2008 by photographer Dan Chavkin, the book is set for release this February 9th and will be available on Amazon and at multiple venues of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, February 11 - 21. Here we preview some of its images.
February 03, 2016
Millennial concept home with an outdoor living area
A concept home aims to reflect the requests of the Millennial market.
February 03, 2016
The two twelve-by-sixteen-foot bedrooms, directly above a comparable pair on the first floor, feature a glass transom that follows the pitch of the roof. “The stair and railings were very simple,” Depardon observes. “We added a bit of design, with panels
Skylights needn't be simple overhead daylighting; sometimes they can truly define a room.
February 03, 2016
Modern small space Rhode Island cottage with landscaping and cedar cladding
Surrounded by nature, these cottages are tranquil retreats from the city.
February 03, 2016
The couple kept original touches, including the arch.
Historic archways belie these contemporary homes with physical reminders of each structure's storied past.
February 03, 2016
modern guesthouse in norway with angular facade and cutaway patio with spruce cladding and ikea chair
These houses make room for nature, not the other way around.
February 02, 2016
Modern kitchen with yellow sectioned walls and monochrome appliances
Whether it's a splash of color or bold strokes, this collection of interiors brightens up these homes.
February 02, 2016
Rust-washed concrete wall in Moscow apartment renovation.
This 590-square-foot apartment was stripped down to admit sunlight and dramatically reveal forgotten surfaces.
February 02, 2016
Nendo's collection of objects inspired by Star Wars
In a galaxy not so far away, Japanese studio Nendo has released a versatile collection of objects inspired by classic Star Wars characters.
February 02, 2016