Villainous lairs tend to share a few key defining qualities. They’re masculine in design, made of cold, hard materials like steel, glass, stone, and concrete. They’re difficult to reach, owing to all the secrecy, perhaps requiring a boat or a helicopter for access. They have grand proportions and a compelling air of mystery about them. Most of all, they’re ostentatiously luxurious. The NCaved home by MOLD Architects fits the bill to a tee, with an exterior reminiscent of James Bond’s many nemeses and an interior that calls to mind Nathan Bateman’s ultramodern hideaway in Ex Machina.
In a word, NCaved is dramatic. Set into the hillside on Greece’s Serifos Island, partially disguised beneath a blanket of dirt and scrubby vegetation, the home looks like one of those cliffside concepts that are a little too wild to ever be built, imagined by architects but scorned by structural engineers. In this case, however, we’re not just looking at skillfully rendered digital spaces. Completed in 2020, this home is, in fact, the real deal.
The camouflaged effect isn’t (to this writer’s knowledge, at least) an effort to hide from international authorities. The choice is an entirely practical one, as following the contour of the hill protects the home from the brutal northern winds while preserving spectacular views of the ocean.
“We applied a rectangular grid to the slope to produce a three-dimensional ‘chessboard’ of solids and voids that accommodate and, at the same time, isolate the residence quarters,” the architects explain. “This strict geometry is discontinued with the rotation of the last axis of the grid, which provides the living area with ampler views. Shifting the axis intensifies the sense of perspective significantly, and thus the imprint of the residence appears minimized at the conceptual end of the ascent.”
“Longitudinal walls of dry stone outline and protect the interior and exterior spaces. They insist the vertical borders, which lead the visitor’s gaze to the horizon line. In contrast to the sturdy stone walls, the transverse facades are light, made of glass, and can open along their entire length. The front is fully open to the east view, while the rear windows frame indoor gardens, enhancing the air flow and letting light into the residence. Lighting and ventilation with front and rear openings, stone, a planted flat roof, suitable insulation, and energy-efficient glass panels add to NCaved’s excellent bioclimatic features.”
Inside, the home’s main functions are divided into three levels, with the bedrooms on the lowest floor, the living area on a mezzanine, and a private guest floor at the crest of the hill. A staircase connects all three levels externally, but only the first and second floors are connected inside. The architects describe the voids they’ve carved out of the hillside as “in caved,” thus the name of the project. They wanted the spaces to retain the rough feeling of natural cavities, which influenced their choices for interior materials and finishes.
With breezy terraces and all that sunshine, the house itself certainly doesn’t feel like a domain of evil. Taken as a whole, it’s actually pretty dynamic, peaceful, and beautiful. Still, somewhere out there, you can bet there’s a location scout drooling over these photos right now, imagining sweeping aerial shots of the exterior standing in for the lair of cinema’s latest unscrupulous criminal mastermind.