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The Mediterranean has long hosted opportunities for architects to design environments of leisure, from Roman escapes on the Gulf of Baia to Adalberto Libera’s Villa Malaparte on Capri — famously featured in Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1963 film Contempt. These seven homes expand and elaborate on the heritage of the Mediterranean summer holiday.
Many utilize plaster, a traditional material in the region that reflects solar heat and helps to cool in the hot months, while others take a more subdued approach with local stone and exposed concrete. Renovations such as Amelia Tavella’s Casa Santa Teresa on the island of Corsica and Rubén Muedra Estudio de Arquitectura’s Dune House demonstrate the possibilities for adapting and preserving modernist vacation getaways for contemporary clients. The unifying theme of these striking residences is an extraordinary sea view and a spectacular coastal setting.
Casa Santa Teresa by AMELIA TAVELLA ARCHITECTES, Ajaccio, France
This home on the Corsican coast is designed around natural elements: the sea, flowering bougainvillea, the breeze, and sunlight. Thoughtful features such as pivoting doors and slatted shutters allow the residence to fully open to the climate in summer, adjusting to the light and heat of the day. A pool in the center of a stone terrace directly abuts a sandy beach stretching across the edge of the property. Exterior plaster walls and interior white paint, as well as a wooden brise soliel and interior finishings connect the distinct zones of the project.
Crouched behind a dune on the Valencian coast, Dune House is a renovated bunker-like modernist home from the 1940s. The overall profile is squat—a white roofline pressed against the sky, but elevated just enough to offer an uninterrupted view of the Balearic Sea. From the terrace, the panoramic view is framed by a white concrete window, reflected into a swimming pool. The interior is similarly monochrome, with white kitchen cabinets and furniture. Hued sliding glass doors echo the chromatic contrast between the home and the sky.
A traditional product of the Amalfi Coast region is multicolored majolica tile, many produced in the seaside resort of Vietri Sul Mare at the Paolo Soleri-designed Ceramica Solimene factory. Ernesto Fusco’s renovation of a sea-view apartment in the cliffside town of Cetara showcases majolica ceramics in a unique ceiling and kitchen counter splash composed of the colorful tiles. The design is particularly suitable as the apartment’s terrace faces the signature green-and-yellow majolica dome of the local parish.
JUMA Architects united two holiday apartments into one unit on the Spanish island of Ibiza. This consolidation necessitated the removal of a staircase and the creation of a single outdoor terrace. The resulting patio offers expansive views of the Balearic Sea, disturbed only by interspersed cacti. With its white walls, sea views, and terrace, the home epitomizes the classic Mediterranean holiday escape.
Ring House is built into a mountainside slope overlooking Messara Bay, with a C-shape that enables it to maintain a low topographic profile. It is composed primarily of two materials: local stone and concrete. Tension between the two creates dramatically different perceptions. Viewed from the pool, the residence is an ultra-modern getaway, whereas from the exterior incline the muted brown stone and grey concrete camouflage into the arid scrubland. To reduce the impact of construction in an ecologically sensitive zone, the architects surveyed and collected seeds from native fauna, then used to restore the landscape that was altered by construction access roads.
On account of its narrow plot, villa kget is elevated on stilts to project over the hillside. Mimicking the elongated forms of the stilts, wooden slats encapsulate the residence’s exterior. The interior is similarly replete with wood, a xyloid theme that befits the home’s location amid a coastal Mediterranean pine forest. The tapered interior opens into covered terraces with superb views of the Gulf of Marseille.
Composed of two overlapping rectangular units, Bedrock House is nestled in the Mediterranean landscape. Separating the house into distinct modules enabled the architects to maximize views from the interior. Two walls bisect the project, and a pool runs the length of the exterior, sea-facing terrace. The complex is decidedly minimalist, with white walls and a glass curtain wall arcade.
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