The Rusted Mill House is a project born of wandering, discovery and the love of its owners for the Mani and its traditional architecture. Their dream was to turn this uninhabited rural complex of three buildings, constructed around 1850, into a holiday home.
Set in a desolate village, the property is comprised of three separate, adjacent volumes that sit on different levels. The structures originally served a functional and historic lay out of animal shelter with storage on the ground floor and the main dwelling on the upper floor, with no internal connection. The surprising and unique feature situated in the heart of this house is a traditional olive mill with much of its original equipment almost entirely intact. It was decided the equipment would remain in the house and was refurbished and protected through the advisory of the Benaki Museum’s Conservation Department. This space would become a center of connection between different levels and spaces of the house.
The focus of restoration was to maintain a balance between the vernacular of the past and its correspondence with the present to create a cohesive composition of past and contemporary that looks to the future.
The house itself becomes a journey of exploration. The main entrance is now defined on the upper floor through an external staircase that leads to the terrace that looks out onto the mountain ridge and the coastline. The main living space settled traditionally on the upper floor is connected to the ground floor through an added staircase that is keeper to the “secret” of the house, the olive mill. This ambient lounge space is the confluence of the house and meets the outdoors on different levels.
All stone works were restored as they originally existed, removing old concrete repairs and rebuilding what was ruined using traditional materials and techniques. The internal walls were refinished with natural mortar and the roof was rebuilt using chestnut timber and the tiles that were on site, reused, refurbished and kept original. Extensions of simple and restricted volumes lined with COR-TEN steel, a contemporary material that continues to age through time, were added to serve as links between the historic elements and the new, contemporary functional adjustments. The use of steel and glass surfaces distinguish the new volume from the original building, emphasizing the different construction eras but also the continuity and development of the house through time.
A contemporary way of living is depicted in the implementation of the underfloor heating along with a central air cooling-heating system and the latest technology of KNX systems for all house operations. This adds flexibility to the massive stone structure while allowing the interiors to stay simple without competing with the original forms.
Outside you will see large rock formations, with flowers and herbs tucked into their crevasses. These sculptural rocks were revealed in the excavations of the home. Once discovered, the garden designs were revised with the rock formations as the focal point.