Athenian apartment buildings, modernist, multi-storey volumes known as polikatoikies which proliferated in the second half of the 20th century, may have been lauded for offering affordable housing to millions of citizens but they’ve also contributed to the city’s notoriously ugly urban sprawl while providing far from ideal living conditions, especially for those occupying the lower, ground and basement levels where daylight and views are at short supply. For good designers however, such spaces provide an opportunity to flex their creative muscles as this recently renovated basement apartment attests. Located in Ilioupoli, a non-descript neighbourhood in the south-east of Athens, a formerly unfinished, semi-basement space has been transformed by Athens-based architects Point Supreme into a hip, effortlessly elegant apartment by embracing its cave-like character and unrefined state and imbuing it with what only can be described as magic realism.
With only 56 square metres to contend with and daylight influx from just one side, it was critical that the practice embrace an open-plan configuration in order to establish a sense of spaciousness and maximize natural lighting. Taking advantage of its unfinished state, the architects have avoided adding internal walls, choosing instead to demarcate the various zones by using see-through, light-weight partitions such as hanging shelves, metal lattice screens and steel and glass sliding panels, as well as curtains to ensure privacy in the bedroom area.
While most architects would have been inclined to cover the unfinished raw concrete columns, beams and ceiling, the team has left them intact along with the existing steel windows and door, imbuing the space with an industrial sensibility that is further enhanced by the visible cable ducts and water piping. Despite the muted tones of the exposed building shell, the apartment is rich in textures and colours evident in the terracotta-hued polished floor tiles, cork wall covering and red-painted kitchen cabinets which imbue the space with warmth, while aquamarine and ochre curtains add additional colour accents, as do lush house plants.
Rounded off with an all-baby-blue bathroom, a former small toilet that was extended to include a walk-in shower, and a roll-up projection screen that turns the modest sitting area into a screening room, the refurbishment has not only turned a drab space into a welcoming living environment, it has also imbued the apartment with chill out vibes and unpretentious sophistication.