K-Lab’s vast Wide Open Villa is a modern monument in a city that boasts a far-reaching and illustrious architectural history.

Set in the exclusive Athens suburb of Ekali, which lies between the Athenian plain and the Penteli mountains to the north of Greece’s capital, architect Konstantinos Labrinopoulos and his studio, KLab architecture have created a monumental family home that is a paragon of modernity.

As a former architecture student and a fan of the celebrated architect Richard Meier, KLab’s client – a successful property developer and contractor – and his family, stipulated that the home should primarily be very simple, very white and very big… museum scale. The large main volume and minimal aesthetics tips a nod to the American architect’s highly acclaimed style for creating voluminous spaces, as well as the impressive stature of neighboring residences “The houses in Ekali are usually quite big. You can see quite a high proportion of modern buildings in the area.” Notes Labrinopoulos.

Konstantinos Labrinopoulos’s definition of luxury:
when you feel comfortable and you have the time to appreciate it

If luxury were …

An object
Something useless, but beautiful.

A place
On a beach next to the sea.

A moment
A moment without any thoughts.

A person
A non person.

The vast 1,050m2 home is defined by two areas; a grand space, then a unit off to one side that houses the functional rooms such as the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. “We wanted to create some kind of isolated villages inside the whole box” the architect explains. However, when planning the imposing entertaining area, just as large volumes can create feelings of immense space, they can also feel quite isolated. The solution? Following the outer curve of the structure, whose form is sympathetic to the road on which it stands, the architect applied curves within the interior, creating subtle divisions, rather than vast open floors, or blocky cubes. “It’s a fluid way of dissecting the space.” Labrinopoulos adds.

In a city that boasts approximately 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s not surprising that the most striking aspect of the Wide Open Villa is the natural light, which pours in profusely through each opening throughout the day. The most crucial aspect of any architecture, here the austere white walls not only intensify the light, they play the role of canvas to the many shadows, each one intentional and carefully created by the architect “We created renderings of every corner of the house, so that we could understand how the light and shadows would be” Labrinopoulos recalls. Each shadow works in perfect harmony with the geometry of the architecture, casting sculptural silhouettes across white surfaces. The grand spiral staircase best exemplifies the play on light and form. Set against a backdrop of a glazed wall, which reaches from the bottom to the top of the structure, by day the colossal spiral is dominated by the shadows of the windowpanes, but by night it takes center stage, as the interior lighting spotlights the imposing form.

Inspired by the spirit of modernism, the seamless division between indoor and outdoor is another crucial element of Wide Open Villa. Just as structural demarcations indoors are subtle, so too are the boundaries between the home and garden. Within the main area a stone clad fireplace is the main focal point. The glass firebox offers a view of the flames both within the living room and from the pool and terrace area, creating two cosy entertaining zones in the evenings. Below ground, a second pool and spa area offers sanctuary and shade – a cavern like spot to escape the glare of the Mediterranean sun.

This is the studio’s biggest built residential project to date, although a second one of similar stature is currently under construction. However, with public projects, such as communal housing and rail projects already among its impressive credentials, Labrinopoulos has even bigger dreams “I’d like to be famous for designing a museum, or something more spiritual, like a church.” KLab’s domestic temple is certainly a praiseworthy work of art.

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