The architectural theorist Christian Norberg Schultz, who attempts to interpret architecture in existential terms, believes that the Genius Loci, which in Greek translation means “Spirit of the Place” [Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture], that is, the identity of a place, incorporates the elements that constitute it, from the characteristics of the land, climate, history, memories, and traditions, to myths and visions. He argues that architecture must be adapted to this reality so that the user can feel that they belong somewhere, that is, that it constitutes the essence of habitation in the broadest sense.
In our effort to define the new identity of the MANTILA hotel in the region of Karpathos, we needed to study, understand, and interpret the “spirit of the place” starting from its rich folk art. Our goal is to harmonize modern aesthetic and construction perceptions with the Karpathian longstanding tradition.
Starting the architectural study of the hotel, we began to explore the folk art of the island to use it not as a decorative element, but as a central axis of architectural design. The principles we followed led us to a proposal characterized by its close relationship with local architecture, incorporating many references to the Karpathian House. The architectural proposal arises from the uniqueness of the island and focuses on highlighting its traditional identity, while also adhering to the principles of bioclimatic and environmental design.
The facade of the MANTILA hotel reflects the combination of traditional architecture and modern aesthetics in an area that appears to have moved away from it, while at the same time serving as a modern landmark on the seaside front, immediately visible from the sea and the island’s port. Its design refers to the traditional Karpathian needlework, which “dressed up” and decorated the interior spaces of the houses. In the case of the hotel, the facades (front and back) behave like a traditional embroidery “Mantila” that adorns the building to highlight the folk art of the island. With designs borrowed from beautiful Karpathian handicrafts such as diamonds and dancing girls, we tried to “embroider” a new facade onto the existing building. The construction of the facades consists of ceramic perforated elements of white and blue (lavender) colors, which contribute to shading and ventilation of the building, without obstructing the visual contact with the sea, while ensuring the privacy of the hotel’s tenants.