TSERI, CYPRUS 2019
With a shortage of accessible land in the suburbs of Nicosia, as in the case of most cities nowadays, densification seems to be the solution for rapidly growing families. For miles on end, single family dwellings can be seen with metal rods sticking out of their roofs, as structural extensions from the reinforced concrete columns, and thus indicating signs of future development. Traditionally, in Cyprus, as families grew, so too did their family dwelling with side and roof extensions making the most of the plot’s permitted building density within the area generated from a three metres inwards offset from the plot’s boundary.
In a country where accessibility is generally difficult, even for the most able of people, with virtually no pavements and stepped access to dwellings which tend to be built on multiple levels accommodating to the complex topography of each site, the task of creating an extension to an existing family dwelling, which had no room for lateral expansion, for the client’s daughter who herself, has restricted mobility, was all the more complicated. In order for the daughter to get into her original bedroom from the ground floor parking, she would have to get out of her car into the wheelchair and climb up two flights of steps using her crutches as support.
With the existing building cranked over two different levels with interconnecting staircases and a roof extension already completed on top of the lower-lying front part of the house with its own staircase access, for one of the client’s other daughters, meant that the new extension would be at the highest point of the building, making access all the more harder. The solution however turned out to be a very logical one. Making the most of the roof extension’s position directly two floors above the ground floor parking, a platform lift was proposed, to allow the client’s daughter to move independently between her car and the self-contained apartment without any need of getting out of her wheelchair.
The 80 square metre self-contained apartment boasts of a large open-plan kitchen, dining and living room with direct access out onto a balcony, all connected by a reclaimed dark-grey marble tile floor that facilitates easy wheelchair movement upon its surface. Subtle tones of timber and grey in the furniture compliment the dark floor and aid the visual transition up to the lighter white walls. Carefully selected black features such as the sink, hob, kitchen appliances, cupboard handles, photo frames, candle holders, Eames style chairs bracing, and hanging pendant lights tie everything together in a modern-traditional aesthetic.
The marble floor flows from the day section into the night side of the house via a sliding door to a corridor which connects two bedrooms, each with their own toilet and one of which double’s up as a guest toilet for easier access from the kitchen-dining-living room. All doors are larger in width than average ones, and where necessary sliding doors have been included to aid wheelchair movement between the rooms. In the bedrooms timber takes over from the marble and combines with the white walls to give a relaxing Scandinavian feel which together with the large windows enhance the connection between body and nature.
Floor to ceiling cupboards, making the most of the available storage space thanks to the high ceilings, are equipped with clever mechanisms so that even the highest items of clothing are reachable. In the bathrooms, taps, toilets and showers are organised to aid transition through the space and can be operated with sensors to avoid causing unnecessary sudden movements while trying to set the water at the right temperature. Spanish mosaic tiles finish off the bathrooms and in addition to the patchwork fabric chairs, dark blue and pink velvet cushions, add joyful colour and vibrancy to the white, timber, grey, and black palette used throughout the house.
This accessible and affordable space allows the client’s daughter to live her own independent life as a student, with one of the bedrooms currently being used as a study room, and unlike before, the architecture helps to improve her daily life by giving her the opportunity to have independence, and the freedom even to invite friends over, while always being at an arm’s length from her family in case she ever needs something.
Client: Private · Location: Tseri, Cyprus · Scope: 80 m2 roof extension with self-contained flat and platform-lift access · Date: 2019 · Contract Value: £100K · Design team: Mondejar Architecture Studio ® Ltd. · Structural Engineer: Michael Michael · Contractor: Demetriou & Nicolaou Construction & Developments Ltd. · Joinery Specialist: Evenos Ltd. · Material Supplier: Kentis Trading Co. Ltd. · Photo Credits: © Mondejar Architecture Studio ® Ltd.