For the past year I have been doing some design work with an Australian client who owns a property on the Greek Island of Kastellorizio that he is converting from a private residence into a small, boutique hotel.
Located 2km off the coast of Turkey, Kastellorizio was occupied by Allied forces during World War II with many of the island’s inhabitants fleeing to Gaza fearing German invasion. It remained under Allied occupation for the rest of the war, but half the homes on the island were destroyed in July 1944 when a fuel dump caught fire, spreading to an adjacent ammunition dump, which left the small town on the island in ruins.
Kastellorizo was assigned to Greece in the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947, it has taken many decades for people to drift back to the island, either as tourists seeking a low-key, isolated, holiday spot, or as residents whose families have lived on the island for generations, returning to their roots.
My client’s property is still in the same condition it was left in at the end of World War Two. That creates a unique set of challenges for the project. There has never been electricity or water in in the building. There is a dirt floor and the internal and external walls, and the roof, all need serious renovation because they’ve been exposed to the elements for so many decades.
The property features original Lathe plaster (that you don’t see very often these days) which is falling off in chunks, broken doorways, and deathtrap staircases between the three floors.
There was a lot of propping up of walls and floors before we could even consider implementing any of the design elements. It’s a labour of love and it’s going to take a couple of years to realise my client’s vision for the boutique hotel, which probably won’t be completed until 2019.
I don’t want to give anything away at this stage, but my design influence is the local Greek islands integrated with the modern lifestyle.