Cycladic Cliffhanger —

Spring 2019
Project Team : Kevin Hai, Pooja Annamaneni, Travis Tabak

In order to produce a new typology of desperately-needed dense housing on the island that would simultaneously produce new opportunities for an expanded public, the premise of the Cycladic Cliffhanger is to use the logic of the mat building within an unused canyon located at the northern periphery of Fira, the main settlement of Santorini, interpolated with the strategies gleaned from studies of precedent mats and of Santorini’s vernacular (see Teeny, Weeny Santorini). 

The primal, formal gesture in the project was to create a singular bar that occupies and spans the canyon, altering the internal logic of the mat to accommodate forces such as program, light, views, structure, etc. The bar provides constraints upon the physical limits of the project, forcing the design to create efficiency and exorbitance in both plan and section from within a predetermined boundary established by the site’s natural topography. The mat building itself is created via the systematic insertion of a truss grid structure that seamlessly spans the canyon. The building is divided by this structural grid into a series of blocks, each block, contains a dense configuration of units arranged a central courtyard, arranged in a way that provides smaller, public spaces of respite around the block. These-spatially ambiguous spaces are meant to be appropriated for use by the inhabitants of the bar, establishing community and a common public realm shared by the inhabitants. This strategy was gleaned from studies of Santorini, as well as the manner of softening edges to allow spaces to bleed into one another and create plasticity and informality.

By tessellating and rotating the seemingly irregular blocks of units, we create variety and complexity within the singular logic of the mat building, which, when combined with public spaces above, within, and below the bar, creates a domestic landscape of spaces informed by the logic of the mat building and the informal porosity of Santorini.