For Greek architect Aristides Dallas, architecture is frozen music, as Goethe remarked, that comes alive with human motion. So it’s quite fitting that one of the most iconic projects of his practice, Aristides Dallas Architects, has been poetically documented by Greek photographer & visual artist Mariana Bisti with a short film that marries architecture, music and dance. Located in Tinos, Greece, Lap Pool House is a modern summer retreat harmonically integrated into the island’s rugged landscape, marked by an elongated, narrow pool that uncannily juts out from the building which has been dug into the hillside. Taking a cue from the pool’s sculptural elegance, which the house takes its name from, Bisti has choreographed three members of the Greek National Synchronised Swimming Team, both inside and outside the water, and the result is an engrossing, soulful audiovisual narrative that breaks the boundaries of typical architectural documentations and evocatively reframes the house’s architecture in terms of motion, light and shadow.
Lap Pool House, a short film by Mariana Bisti created for and in collaboration with the Greek architectural firm Aristides Dallas Architects, shot in Tinos island, Greece, in June 2020.
Direction, Direction of Photography, Camera & Drone Operation: Mariana Bisti
Editing: Leonidas Papafotiou
Color grading: MetaPost
VFX: Thelxi Zygouri
Dancers: Evaggelia Platanioti, Maria Alziguzi-Kominea, Eleni Papandreou
Choreography: Mariana Bisti
Music: Nikos Tselios
Dallas’ practice is known for the harmonious and thoughtful integration of conflicting concepts and ideas like modern and vernacular, natural and man-made, and private and public, as well as a contemporary architectural language of clear-cut geometries and minimalist clarity. In Lap Pool House this approach is encapsulated in the compositional balance between the private spaces which disappear into the hillside and the public spaces, including the pool, that visibly jut out from it. The use of concrete further blends the building into the rocky and barren Cycladic landscape while proclaiming the design’s modernism. The cubist composition of concrete volumes also imbues the house with a sculptural sensibility and enable the interplay of light and shadow, another hallmark of the architect’s practice.
With an extensive architectural background and a current artistic practice that includes video, photography, public interventions, performances and installations, Dallas couldn’t have commissioned a more suitable person than Mariana Bisti to create a short film to showcase the soulfulness of Lap Pool House. Combining ground and drone shots, Bisti has languorously filmed the house, beginning with intimate shots before slowly panning around and zooming out to gradually revealing the extent of the house and the views it’s blessed with. Key to the film’s poetics is the cast of the three dancers, members of the Greek National Synchronised Swimming Team, whom Bisti has choreographed in response to the architecture. Starting off with uncanny sequences of fleeting shadows, swaying limbs and swooning figures, the dancers soon take centre stage, both alone and together, outside and inside the water, their lithe bodies hypnotically stretching, curling and twisting to the electronic soundtrack of Nikos Tselios.
What is remarkable in Bisti's carefully staged set ups, is that the dancing figures neither dominate the spaces they occupy nor are they overpowered by them. The filmmaker has struck a finely tuned balance between the human cast and the architecture, gradually transforming the three dancers from strange trespassers, to rightful protagonists, to integral parts of the building fabric, as exemplified by the last shots where they solemnly stand, still or lie still. The film comes full circle with an intimate shot of one of the girls slowly submerging into the pool, disappearing as uncannily as they initially appeared. It’s a symbolic act of communion between the house and its occupants as much as it’s a baptismal rite of passage, but it’s also a beautiful ending to an enchanting film.