The towers, these imposing tall and narrow prisms, are the most stubborn andabsolute expression of Mani building. On the outskirts of the settlements, the”xemonia” were erected in order to defend or expand the land property. Theyserved to control, exclude or drive out the opponents, but also to transfer thepressure from the main settlement to new territories.
Tainaron Blue Retreat is a representative sample of traditional xemonia of the South.The tower – now transformed into a small guest house – is facing a similarconstruction, which had also been a strong fortified complex. Both together, theycontrolled the road to the area around Tainaron. The war tower is built on solidground and rocks known as “rizomies”, at a strategic spot that offers an amazingview of the sea and the hinterland.
The restoration of the traditional building solved form issues in relation to the oldtexture of the masonry, so that the final look of the tower gives the impression of abuilding that emerges from the rock, upon which it is founded. The groutinginternally and externally was done with real “kourasani” or Roman mortar (acombination of Theraic soil, ceramic powder, lime and a special shade of river sand)and minimum amount of cement, which enhances the static adequacy of themasonry and ensures durability.
The conversion of the tower into a guest house had to overcome considerable difficulties. The reason was the need for a high degree of adaptation to the specificcharacteristics of the regional architecture and at the same time the demand foraccommodation in rooms with modern aesthetic perception. The four floors, withtheir relatively limited interior spaces that comprise of three bedrooms withbathroom and shared kitchen, breakfast and reception space, are organized along avertical axis, allowing guests to have the unique experience of moving throughnarrow openings (“waterfalls”), wooden stairs or rocks protruding from the walls andarches (“steps”).
As the formation of the exterior spaces had to ensure minimum interference, theaddition of a water surface area adapted to the specific environment and respectedthe topography of the landscape, resulting in an even and unified set of buildingsand space with intensity and character.
photography by George Meitner: http://www.georgemeitner.com/
Mani Tower / Tainaron Blue Retreat received the Special Jury Award for Overall Rating (equal prize) in 2015 100% Hotel Design Awards.