Sailing to the Aegean

Sculptural and airy, Dolunay Villa overlooking the Aegean sea looks like it could almost catch a breeze and set sail. The materials echo the setting while the amazing central stair also looks like it might turn on a wind gust

Designed by Foster + Partners

From the architects:

Situated along the coast of the Aegean Sea in Turkey’s southwestern province of Muğla, the private Dolunay villa has been carefully sited amid the natural rugged setting, prioritising the spectacular sea views.

The site is accessed from the north, with a curving road that leads to the drop-off for the villa.

The design uses the natural contours of the site to create a low-rise building that appears as a single storey structure on approach.

The house is embedded within a beautiful Mediterranean garden that offers a multi-sensory experience with fragrant plants such as thyme and lavender alongside rich seasonal planting and mature olive trees.

The main entrance takes you directly to the heart of the villa with the private family quarters to the eastern side, orientated to respond to the contours of the site, and the public living and dining areas to the west, with exceptional views of the setting sun over the Aegean.

The journey through the villa is from ‘opaque to open’, reflecting the differing levels of privacy throughout. And the design also blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living, with large glass doors along the façade that slide back completely, providing an unobstructed flow of space between the interior and exterior spaces.

There’s a real split between the public forum and the private. A sense of discovery and a richness of experience comes through in the way the spaces change as you walk through the site.

Niall Dempsey, Partner, Foster + Partners

The house features a handcrafted undulating structural timber roof, designed in conjunction with Swiss firm Blumer Lehmann.

This prefabricated and precision-engineered structure contains substantially less carbon than a typical concrete roof. The solid structural oak beams rest on steel columns, supporting a large 7.5m cantilever, providing generous outdoor shaded spaces and cool shaded courtyards to the rear.

The central feature stair that connects the two levels is made from solid Portuguese limestone and is supported through post-tensioned cables running through the stone with no other visible supports.

Preserving the purity of the staircase and offering a feeling of lightness, the balustrades are made from thin glass tubes with a timber handrail that has been bent and shaped on site.

Reflecting the high levels of craftsmanship in the design, each element has been designed to respond to the specific requirements of the owner – from hand-carved solid timber doors to bespoke ceramic tiles and basin in the bathrooms. There is a smaller sunset pavilion closer to the coast that features natural stone walls, olive groves, wooden tables and a bamboo soffit.

Inspired by the villa’s immediate surroundings, the natural interior material palette consists of  stone, wood and bronze and includes various tones of warm browns and greys found throughout the rocky outcrops and sandy beaches of the site. The choice of oak joinery and leather furnishings provides a relaxed, elegant feel to the coastal retreat.

We were fascinated by the local landscape and wanted it to flow through the interior spaces and effectively disguise the building. Even though it gets incredibly hot in the summer, we wanted the building to be able to breathe naturally. The landscaped open courtyards within the house allow the prevailing breeze to gently move through the villa. These are simple ideas that have come together in an elegant way.

David Summerfield, Senior Executive Partner, Foster + Partners

Credit list

Dolunay Villa􀀧􀁒􀁏􀁘􀁑􀁄􀁜􀀃􀀹􀁌􀁏􀁏􀁄
Collaborating architect
Design Group Istanbul; Artiko Architects
Mechanical engineer
Okutan Mühendislik, Ankara
Lighting engineers
Design Group Istanbul
Ans, Mühendislik
Facade and glazing
Wood and stone millwork
Nan Kontract
Furniture procurement
Aired concrete (walls); glass; oiled oak (floors); local limestone (walls); powder coated aluminium (covers)
Oak; plaster; bamboo
Foster + Partners
Structural engineer
Design Group Istanbul; Matte Construction & Design
Landscape architect
Exterior Architecture; Jan Muse Landscape Designers
Main contractor (followed by support subs)
Matte Construction & Development
Electrical controls
Roof and soffit
Blumer-Lehmann AG
Hera Lighting; The Flaming Beacon
The Stone Masonry Company
Concrete foundations, slabs and RC walls; painted steel columns; oak roof structure
Oak; limestone
Portuguese limestone

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Nigel Young

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