A comfortable residence for sale, in a serene setting with inspiring view, sensibly built in an environment-conscious manner, 10' from Athens airport, Koropi metro station, or Porto Rafti beach.
The layout provides for 500 m2 of heated space, including a large reception area and 8 bedrooms with private bathrooms. Auxiliary functions and a 4-car garage are accommodated in additional 300 m2.
The 8,000 m2 (2 acres) plot features a 75 m2 heated swimming pool, 900 m2 of grass carpet, 50 productive olive trees and direct access to the adjacent backwoods. A deep borehole offers water self-sufficiency for the large garden and supports a powerful heat pump for underfloor heating and cooling.
The building is near completion, thus facilitating amendments to suit alternative choices.

Given its location, size, and features, Merentia is ideal for corporate use like company events or executive accommodation, as well as for smart business like country spa and stylish guesthouse.


the site

architect's account & plans

photo gallery


the site


[click on thumbnails for larger image]

Markopoulo area from Google Earth
satellite view of Markopoulo area


View from Merenta hill
N-NW view from Merenta hill


Merentia is located 4 km SE of Markopoulo, a town at the heart of the wine producing land of Mesogea, near the east coast of Attica.

As Greater Athens shifts eastwards thanks to Attiki Odos motorway and the new airport, the area is becoming a hotspot for real estate development, with new buildings emerging in many parts of the mild rural landscape.

Markopoulo is about 30km -or 30 minutes drive- from downtown Athens; it offers the usual urban facilities, plus several attractions nearby:

The small fishing hamlet of Porto Rafti, 7 km to the east, has now become a major resort with good swimming beaches and a busy night life in summer.

Porto Rafti offers several fish taverns, whilst the village of Kalyvia -5km south of Markopoulo- is renowned for its grill houses.

Athens 2004 Olympics brought in the area a new Equestrian Centre with two horse racing tracks, as well as the new Shooting Centre nearby.

For nature lovers, the unspoiled pine forests on the hills SE of Markopoulo are a splendid site for hiking or just a stroll, hardly reminiscent of the fact that busy Athens is just 30km away.



Merentia from Goodle Earth
satellite view of the plot
during construction
[Google Earth]


The elongated plot is situated at an altitude of 150m above sea level, right at the foot of Merenta hill where rural land meets backwoods with Mediterranean vegetation. The mild slope (10-20%) is facing NE, with a lovely view over vineyards, the Equestrian Centre and Athens Airport further away. The vista is interesting in the night too, with thousands of multicolour lights vanishing to the horizon.

On the north side, a 2.5m-high masonry wall separates the plot from the street, with a 5m-wide sliding gate at its end. On the west, there are two detached houses at a distance of 60m. The land to the east is vacant, with any building activity forbidden by law. The south end of the plot offers access towards Merenta hill, a convenient feature for a quick escape to nature.

The plot contains about 50 fully grown olive trees that can produce a fair quantity of olive oil. Numerous new trees and bushes (cypress, laurel, etc.) have been planted along the edge of the plot as a natural fence. Vegetation has been enriched further by a number of lemon trees, herbs like rosemary and lavender, a small vegetable garden, and about 900m2 of grass carpet.

An extensive automated irrigation system supports vegetation using underground water pumped from a deep borehole.

A rare feature of the property is that it was built just before the introduction of a new law forbidding any further construction on the 'Mountainous Zone' where Merentia is located.


architect's account



schematic section


level 5 plan


level 4 plan


level 3 plan


level 2 plan


level 1 plan


natural ventilation & wind protection


underground water cycle






design objectives

The original brief was for a spacious main residence joined by a self-contained smaller flat, integrating environmental features for the optimum combination of thermal comfort and energy cost.

Topography, orientation, wind, and spatial flexibility were the major factors in the layout, alongside structural considerations for quake-proofing and materials durability.

The outcome has been a result of close consultation between architect and client during the design and construction stages. Close supervision by the architect ensured a high level of technical and aesthetic integrity reflecting a profound minimalist spirit.


The building is placed at the upper part of the plot to maximize view, with an elongated footprint along the slope due to restrictions concerning minimum free distance from the side borders.

It is divided in 3 main sections (A, B, C) plus one for utilities (D), arranged on 5 stepped levels following the slope. An additional section (E) is a small self-contained flat near the swimming pool. There are also plans for a small house (F) next to the main gate, to be used as gardener’s lodging.

Section B is self-contained, with its own independent entrance and access to the garage. Sections A & C have been designed as one residence, with C being the master bedroom quarters; it is however possible to separate C as an independent dwelling after a few amendments.

Gross floor area is 950m2; details on the floor area etc. of each section are shown in this table.

The most notable feature of the living areas is the high ceilings, with free height reaching up to 6 m allowing for indoor balconies that enhance the spatial quality.

Section D is surrounded on its E & S sides by a cave-like corridor with ideal conditions for a wine cellar at constant ground temperature.

The overflow swimming pool is made of reinforced concrete, lined with mosaic tiles. It measures 11x7m with depths from 1.0-2.40m and a 3m high waterfall along its northern edge.


Special care for earthquake-proofing has been taken, going beyond the regulations requirements:

·   the building is constructed on very hard soil, with heavy mass at the bottom and a light structure on top;

·   the foundation consists of a continuous reinforced concrete slab 40cm thick;

·   the part in contact with the ground is made of reinforced concrete walls 25cm thick;

·   the upper part is constructed by load-bearing masonry walls using solid aerated concrete blocks [Ytong] 30cm thick with reinforced concrete bond beams & posts; inner partitions are similar but 15cm thick;

·   the curved roof consists of a steel frame supporting insulating metal panels;

·   the indoor balconies are made of steel beams covered with engineered timber boards.

environmental features

Several features underline the environmental concern in Merentia's design as much as its special building quality. Of key importance are energy-related measures to reduce energy cost and enhance thermal comfort.

Passive measures:

  • The overall compact shape minimizes heat transfer from/to the inner volume through the building shell.

  • Thick walls and concrete mass provide substantial thermal inertia to dampen diurnal temperature fluctuations.

  • Thermal insulation exceeds Greek standards, using:
    - insulating solid blocks 30cm thick on east & west walls, 60cm on north & south;
    - extruded polystyrene 5cm on concrete walls, 8cm on slabs;
    - 5cm polyurethane in roof panels plus 5cm mineral fibres underneath;
    - double glazing using low-emissivity glass.

  • High ceilings provide room for hot air to rise above the living level.

  • Limited openings on the W-NW side reduce exposure to the sun in summer and to cold north winds in winter. In contrast, the main living area has large openings to the east, towards the swimming pool and the cool morning sun.

  • Most openings have oblique sides directed N-E & S-W to increase daylight, hinting also at the environmental awareness of the design.

  • Shading over the east & west large glazing is provided by pergolas & canopies; the south windows are protected by external roller blinds.

  • Natural ventilation to extract warm air is promoted by special openings -see sketch.

  • 3 wind protected areas allow outdoor activities on a windy day:
    - the barrel-like courtyard at the north front;
    - a patio on the south side, protected by a free-standing alcove;
    - the master bedroom veranda, protected by the volume of section A; here, view is partly sacrificed for comfort, but the balcony above offers an excellent observation spot for calm days.

  • The underground walls and the roof are carefully waterproofed by bituminous membranes and drainage pipes.

Active means:

  • Underfloor water heating offers uniform room temperature with heat radiated from below; the system requires low temperature of water input, enabling geothermal or solar applications.

  • The same underfloor system is used for radiant summer cooling, thus allowing windows to stay open even when outdoor temperature is high.

  • There are 7 heating zones where independent thermostats adjust desired temperature locally; embedded sensors monitor condensation on cool floors in summer.

  • Heating and cooling are supported by a 32kW water-to-water heat exchanger that utilizes underground water from a 120m-deep borehole; the water is pumped to a 30m3 concrete cistern buried at the upper part of the plot -see sketch.

  • The heat pump warms up the swimming pool during spring & autumn, when space heating or cooling requirements are low.

  • The glazed elevator shaft at the south elevation acts as a sunspace that adds to solar energy collected through the large south windows; warm air is fanned from that area to the ground floor via a duct.

  • A 60m long buried duct (earth-coupled heat exchanger) brings fresh air into the master bedroom at naturally modified temperature, i.e. in summer cooler, in winter warmer than ambient air.

  • Four fireplaces provide extra heat and cosiness.