Built Into A Rock Face – Grace Santorini Hotel by architects Divercity and mplusm

This 20-room hotel is carved into the cliff-face 300m above Santorini’s volcanic caldera. The understated design allows this extraordinary landscape to take centre stage. The hotel provides a contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture: economy of space, radical simplicity, and organic forms. Like Santorini’s yposkafa- cave-like dwellings with rounded walls and domed roofs excavated from the rock-face- no furniture is free-standing. Custom-built storage and vanity units are moulded into alcoves. All-white interiors with brushed concrete floors reiterate the trademark whitewashed houses of the Cyclades. The infinity pool’s jagged outline echoes the zigzag paths that criss-cross Santorini’s sheer terrain.

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Grace Santorini’s hotel rooms are invariably front-loaded to face the view, leaving residents exposed to passers-by. To ensure privacy, fragments of volcanic rock are positioned in the windows of four rooms, interspersed with apertures that provide glimpses to the sea. The feature echoes a local architectural technique, more commonly used for retaining walls, in which minimal amounts of mortar are used, leaving gaps between the stonework. By exposing the stones and exaggerating the spaces between them, this light-filtering screen allows privacy and ventilation and casts dappled shadows as the sun goes down.

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Project: Hotel
Location: Santorini, Greece
Client: Grace Hotels Group
Project Status: Complete, 2010
Collaborators: Mplusm, architects
Sophia Vantaraki, space consultant
Contractor: FMI
Photos: Erieta Attali& Serge Detalle

The Restaurant& Bar Design Awards,
International Restaurant, shortlisted 2011 (UK)
Tatler’s Travel Guide, listed in the
101 Best Hotels of the World 2011 (UK)
The European Hotel Design Awards, Bedroom
and Bathrooms and Newbuild, shortlisted 2010 (UK)
The World Travel Awards, Greece’s Leading
Boutique Hotel, winner 2009
Conde Nast Traveller, listed in Hot List
of the World’s Best New Hotels 2009

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