Cyclades Architecture - Unique in the World

Cyclades Architecture - Unique in the World

Cyclades architecture is one of a kind. With the advent of tourism on each of these islands, word about the uniqueness of Cyclades architecture has spread far and wide. If you visit Santorini, Andros, Naxos or any other Cycladic island, you will see that each of the island villages have whitewashed cubic houses with blue wooden doors and windows. Even the streets have been painted white and constructed with rectangular or polygonal flagstones. The old world charm exudes from each of these islands. The builders who built these houses had a preconceived idea to construct the houses according to the land conditions on these islands. Rarely will you ever come across very fashionable architectural extravaganza. Even the hotels here have certain architectural rules that they usually conform to.

Buildings constructed here had to serve the purposes of the islanders as well as complement the fantastic landscape of each of these islands. All of the buildings or residential houses in the villages are built in a manner to maintain a certain balance and uniformity. When you walk through the labyrinth of narrow lanes, you will see that the houses tend to look similar in many respects. There are sometimes series of one storey houses at one place and at another place there are series of two storey houses. All of them are painted white in contrast to the dark ground on which they stand and have the unique blue color painted on doors and windows reflecting the vast blue sea and the sky around them. Cyclades architecture looks very surreal at times and you are often led to wander whether you are in some fantasy land.

In Cyclades architecture, you will see that even the streets are all the same. It is the place where most of the activity takes place. Restaurants, bars and cafeterias all open up into the streets. The streets are like a continuation of the houses in this place. You will hardly come across grand public squares here and most of them occupy a very small area. It is usually the meeting place of people who come here to chat and spend time over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Even the architecture of the churches in this place is in conformity to the housing architecture in each village. Of course, their blue domes have definitely made them very popular indeed among national and international tourists. One interesting feature of the two-storey houses here is that the second storey has an outside staircase to the upper floor.

This outside staircase is found in all the houses having two-storey structure. In Cyclades architecture, it is a very popular custom where it is seen that separate individuals own separate floors in the same building. This custom had started way back in the times when the Venetians owned the islands and had established their supremacy here. Once the castle walls came up surrounding the settlements, there was lack of proper places to stay for people coming into this village from other parts. At that time, many families in need of goods rented out their ground floors to these goods-trading people. Often you will come across houses in these villages that have opened stores in the ground floor whereas the family lives in the upper floor.

Thus most of the Cyclades architecture found in the villages comprise of whitewashed houses with vaulted, pitched or inclined roofs, blue-domed churches, fountains in public squares, windmills on top of the cliffs or hills, and ornately decorated dovecotes in the villages. The houses are built in such a manner on these undulating landscapes of the Cycladic islands that it appears to have been growing out of the sides of the hills.

Octagon House

Octagon House

Octagon houses refer to a unique house style, which was popular during the 19th century in United States. They are featured by an octagonal plan shape, and often are visible with a veranda part or all the way around. Their unusual shape as well as appearance, quite distinct from the ornate pitched roof houses common for the period, can usually be traced to the influence of a man, amateur architect as well as lifestyle pundit Orson Squire Fowler.

Popular examples of this type of architecture include popular Forest, Thomas Jefferson's private retreat and the plantation house near Lynchburg, Virginia. William Thornton's Tayloe House or The Octagon House is another major example. After the White House had been burned by the British in 1812, President James Madison was in the Octagon House, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed here. It is currently the headquarters of the American Institute of Architects.

The houses are buildings of large brick in the classical tradition. They might be seen as a precursor, however, are somewhat distinct from the Victorian octagon houses which have essentially domestic structures.

A major supporter of octagonal houses was Orson Squire Fowler. Fowler was America's well known lecturer, as well as writer on phrenology, the pseudoscience of definition of an individual's characteristics by the contours on the head. In between the 19th century, Fowler had his mark on American architecture as he touted the advantages of octagonal homes above rectangular and square home structures in his book, The Octagon House: A Home for All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient, and Superior Mode of Building. It was, printed in the year 1848.

Due to its popular as well as influential publication, a number of octagonal houses were constructed in the United States, especially in the Midwest, the East Coast, as well as in nearby parts of Canada.

As compared with a square structure, an octagon offers approximately 20% extra space with the same perimeter. According to Fowler, an octagon house is cheaper to build, allows for additional living space, receives more natural light, is easier to heat, as well as remains cooler in the summer. These benefits have been derived from the geometry of octagon; the shape encloses the space effectively, minimizing the external surface area along with consequent building costs, heat loss / heat gain, etc. A circle is believed to be the most efficient shape, however, is difficult to build as well as awkward to furnish. Therefore an octagon refers to a sensible approximation. As it is, Victorian builders used to build 45 degree corners, as in case of the typical bay window, as could easily adapt to the octagonal plan.

Chameleon House – Northport, Mich.

Anderson Architecture completed this home in 2006 atop a hill overlooking a cherry orchard and Lake Michigan. The striking structure took less than eight weeks to build thanks to the use of prefabricated materials. The steel frame of this house is wrapped in corrugated, translucent acrylic slats, allowing it to take on and reflect the changing colors of the landscape, like a chameleon blending into its habitat. Because it sits on a steep hill, the entrance of the home leads to the third floor, letting residents descend to the bedrooms or walk up to the living area.

The Mushroom House – Cincinnati

This was the home and studio of Terry Brown, an architect who died in 2008. Brown, who was a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, built the home between 1992 and 2006, bringing in students, on occasion, to contribute to the project. Undulating woodwork, bizarre shapes and an array of materials come together to form a cohesive, albeit zany, structure. “This isn’t something you draw up and say, ‘Go build it,’” architect Peter Koliopoulos says. “When you’re doing something this custom, you’re fabricating and designing simultaneously in the field.” The fantastical design doesn’t stop at the front door. The interior is adorned with angular cabinets and multicolored rock walls. “This is highly personal and artistic … it’s just a different way of living and thinking,” he says.

Unique V House in Bogotá Colombia by Plan B Arquitectos + Giancarlo Mazzanti

This beautiful and unique house has roof that for relax and enjoy landscape view, located in Sabana de Bogotá, Colombia

Cob House in Vancouver, Canada

We have to be amazed that this cob House in Vancouver, Canada is made of pure clay, sand, straw and water.
Cob House in Vancouver

Dome House in Florida, United States

Dome House in Florida, United States, is the beautiful white house with unique dome architecture.
Dome House in Florida

Cubic House in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cubic houses in Rotterdam, the Netherlands is a collection of houses that together form a geometric cube. Interesting factor here is how this house is maintained to keep from falling by balancing one another.
Cubic House in Rotterdam

Crooked House in Sopot

You know that your looking at a real building right? The Crooked House was built in 2004 as an addition at a popular shopping center, and is a major tourist attraction in Sopot, Poland.Crooked House in Sopot

Unique Houses in the World

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