Weiss Architecture Studio

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Futuristic Tholos

Cycladic architecture

The Cyclades -islands in the central, eastern and south-eastern Aegean- are protected by a planning regime which determines the morphology of their architecture.  Small single or two-floor structures which blend into the natural terrain arranged around courtyards protect the privacy of residents during the hot summer months and also provide opportunities for communication.

The colour of the buildings is necessarily white, with the only differences being in the colours of the doors and windows where there are three or four basic colours to choose from (light blue, grey, green, red-terracotta). Amid the barren environment of the islands with their harsh terrain and minimal vegetation, it is these small structures that provide the characteristic visual plasticity, particularly when these structures are integrated into the fabric of villages with their narrow lanes no wider than 2 m and external entrance steps.

The complex at Boutaris Winery

The Boutaris Winery is located on what is the most unique island of the Cyclades, Santorini, on the road towards Faros, after Akrotiri. The Winery, with its characteristic white dome, was designed in 1987 and commenced operations in 1989, playing a leading role in the growth of wine-making on the island. Open to the public, it offers visitors complete guided tours.

Architectural composition

The complex, saved from vineyards, almost next to the very edge of the crater, includes a state-of-the-art vinification centre, a tank area, management building – sales department and shop and a building known as the ‘Dome’: an indoor amphitheatre laid out in the form of concentric segments of a circle.

This corner plot has a long façade along the road leading from Megalohori to Akrotiri. Passenger vehicles and lorries enter and exit the complex from this road on the north and west respectively. The main entrance for the public to the management building is also located there. The buildings are laid out around a central courtyard with the management building and winery on a N-NE orientation, the tank on an E orientation, the Dome on a S orientation and the accommodation facilities (to be developed in the future) on a W orientation.

The courtyard is the central reference point in the entire composition and it forms a link to all individual functions. This area is protected against the harsh northerly and north-easterly winds and thus the courtyard, as a linking tool reproduces the traditional standards of architectural composition and communication.

The building structures are plain, single-floored constructions with flat roofs in the case of the management building and the tanks, while the roofs of the winery and the accommodation facilities are domed. This ensures a contrast between the stark, plain volumes of the outer, perimetric view of the complex and its interior, with the gentle landscaping of the courtyard and the buildings radiating off it. The geometry of the Dome, which is the characteristic compositional element here, was determined by the amphitheatre-like internal layout. It is a building inscribed on a circle, with concentric circular indents housing rooms where visitors, after seeing a sound and image show, can sample Boutaris’ range of wines from Santorini. The domed construction of the building repeats a typical Cycladic motif found in the architecture of the island; sometimes white, sometimes dark blue, inspired by the colours of the Aegean.

Lastly, the dominant material is white plaster and the flooring used in the courtyard outside the Dome is slate and pebbled tiles which form decorative mosaics in earthy hues.


I.Boutaris & Son S.A.


Megalohori, Santorini




World Architecture Community Awards 2009 (Winner)