The Wooden Cave is the first project by Tenon Architecture. It was designed and built by architects Apostolos Mitropoulos and Thanos Zervos at the Hyades Mountain Resort in Trikala Korinthias, Greece, and was completed in 2020. The project entails the complete renovation of an existing space of the resort with the construction of a curved wooden structure within it.

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The space is intended for commercial use by the resort and includes two sleeping areas integrated within the curved structure as well as an open-plan kitchen. The design also includes two secondary rooms, a sitting area with a fireplace, and the bathroom of the main guestroom. In this way, the plan is divided into two zones: the main room, which is made up of a continuous curved wooden structure, and the secondary spaces, which are oriented towards the view, and covered in dark stone.

This division intends to create a clear distinction between the hard, “protective” shell and the curved, “inviting” interior reminiscent of the form of a cave that has been used as a refuge and a haven throughout human existence.

The lighting played an essential part in the designing process and was carefully considered. During the day, the natural light unifies the different areas of the design, creating a cohesive living space, while the artificial nocturnal lighting, placed in strategic points of the curvature, accentuates the form of the cave intensifying the feeling of a sanctuary.

The curved structure is made of spruce raw timber, while the rest of the features (kitchen, cupboards, floor, etc.) is of knotless pine plywood. All the wooden structures were constructed at an offset from the concrete shell, which allows for airflow behind the wood. Circulating air between the wooden elements and the concrete aims to protect the structure and passively regulate the room’s humidity and temperature, utilizing wood’s natural buffering abilities.

All construction for this project was realized on-site. The curved structure, which consists of 1.112 different curved wooden pieces, was designed to be put together through a manual assembly process. The designs of each of the 1.112 pieces were produced algorithmically and transferred on-site, where Tenon’s team processed the pieces and converted them into 55 larger modules through traditional carpentry methods. Each of the modules was then hand-carved and shaped before the final assembly of the structure.

The absence of any digital fabrication methods in the construction resulted in the adoption of a more sculptural approach towards the final form that was the amalgamation of the original designs and on-site sculpting. This kind of highly customized sculptural process also meant that no carpenters, workers, or other technicians were employed, and every part of the structure was constructed and assembled by the two founding members of Tenon. One of the most challenging parts of such a process was the translation of the algorithmic drawings into practical instructions for hand-working and sculpting the wood on-site.

The final structure is, therefore, the result of a unique combination of algorithmic logic and hands-on craftsmanship.


Facts & Credits
Project title  Wooden Cave
Location  Trikala Korinthias, Greece
Client  Hyades Mountain Resort
Year of design and construction  2018-2020
Design and construction  TENON
Architects  Apostolos Mitropoulos, Thanos Zervos
Photography  Spyros Hound Photography