Athens-based architects and life-partners Konstantinos Pantazis and Marianna Rentzou, founders of the architectural practice Point Supreme, have a talent for creating visually and spatially intriguing projects that offer a refreshing, postmodern-inflected antidote to the formalistic sophistication and minimalist ethos of contemporary design. Embracing the art of collage and the art of adaptive reuse, their work eschews the lulling sensation of homogeneous spaces and stylistic continuity in favour of a curated medley of diverse references, techniques and typologies that nevertheless coalesce into a coherent narrative. Case in point, the duo’s own home in Petralona, a charming Athenians neighbourhood on the foot of Philopappos Hill where Neoclassical and interwar houses stand side by side with non-descript apartment buildings.
Originally a modest 1955 single-storey house, the building has been radically reconfigured, including the construction of two additional floors, challenging social and spatial conventions. Boldly mixing low with high culture, industrial with vernacular elements, and iconic architectural tropes with commonplace features, the house is full of personality, encapsulating the duo’s distinct architectural magic realism approach.
The duo’s passion for collage is evident throughout the property, from the quirky decorative flourishes, to the distinct character of each room, through to the façade. The latter is divided into three distinct horizontal zones; the ground floor sets the tone with its vibrant colour palette of blue, red and terracotta, the first floor’s folklore sensibility takes a page from traditional Greek housing, while the second floor’s simplicity alludes to modernist masters like Le Corbusier.
The team retained the existing building’s footprint but proceeded with completely gutting the interior in order to create a spacious open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. Housing the private quarters, the two new floors are designed to form a triple-height void at the heart of the communal space that offers connecting views throughout the residence. The atrium-like space features a living tree planted through a hole cut in the floor, niches for plants and flowers, windows on all sides bringing in plenty of daylight, and large patio doors opening onto the garden blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors, drawing inspiration from the courtyards at the heart of Athenian multi-tenant housing of yesteryear, which functioned as the neighbourhood’s social hubs.
Connecting the communal zone on the ground floor with the bedrooms on the upper levels, the house’s staircase is a small piece of architecture in itself. Morphing from a peach-painted concrete volume to a black steel structure, the staircase also incorporates built-in seating and a formidable bookcase that extends across all three levels. This unique construction is part of a series of building features that blend architecture, furniture and objects as part of Pantazis and Rentzou’s aim to design a “flexible and inclusive” residence. For the same reason, the construction of the house includes a plethora of found and reclaimed materials sourced from junk yards and abandoned structures.
More than a sustainable practice and a cost cutting solution – the project began in the midst of the Greek financial crisis in 2016 – adaptive reuse was a creative way for the architects to create a sui generis house. It also helped them with imbuing each room with a distinct character; from the peach-hued, modernist-inspired master bedroom, to the folkloric-tinged second bedroom and the adjacent all-green bathroom, to the brutalist atrium structure, each space sports its own’s details, materiality, references and even façade - as previously mentioned. It’s a credit to the two architects’ sense of balance and composition that despite such variety, the house doesn’t feel disjointed or haphazardly stitched up. On the contrary, Pantazis and Rentzou’s home come across as a joyful environment that prioritizes the lived experience above architecture norms and trends.