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Lesbos, Greece

It all began as a dream about a Greek island where Nature seduced a group of investors to buy whatever was for sale irrespective of perspective. They were in love with the trunks of the olive trees and the blue sea and sky that extended to infinity. They bought blindly until one day they realized that buying was not enough.

 

The clients concentrated their acquisitions in two strikingly different areas and landscapes:

 

  • Mavri Skala- Magera in the south east of the island

  • Skaloxori- Peninsula on the northern coast of Lesbos.

Mavri Skala – Mageira is situated is covered by Olive Groves and ancient forests. The hills and valleys, cliffs and shoreline that typify this area offer breathtaking views of both the coastline and the surrounding landscape. The land is rich and greens; cultivated and cultured by centuries of farming.  The town of Plomari, with its fishing boats, Ouzo facturies, olive presses and authentic restaurants and bars is 20 minutes away along a dirt road as is the mythical village of Agaissos, with its historic churches, friendly yet bearded women, authentic bakeries, jams and craft shops. The magic of the location and the island is undeniable but as an almost random collection of plots, Mavri Skala – Mageira development was a project in need of coherence.

 

Skaloxori- Peninsula is located along the northern coast of Lesvos is composed of fertile plains, that are used for crop growing, and dramatic and rugged, barren rock outcrops. Just beyond the Skaloxori peninsula, hides an entire ancient Greek city submerged under the sea. Only the slight difference of azure blue offers a hint to its mysterious existence. Occupying the entire peninsula  Skaloxori offered a dramatic play of opposites. Exposed yet contained, it was all about sea and the ruggidness of the landscape. It was about the threshold of land and sea, as well as, about the sky as it merges beyond our view with the infinity of the sea.

Lesvos is the third largest island of Greece and the largest of the North-eastern Aegean Islands. Famous for the best Ouzo, the purest olive oil and the sweetest figs, Lesvos is infused by the richness of its soil and the profoundness of its culture. It is the birthplace of the famous Greek female poets Sappho, Odysseas, Elytis, the writer Aesop, the philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus and the painter Theophilos. It’s history is intertwined with Homeric tales and ancient Greek legends, with stories of the God’s and countless marine escapades. Lesvos offers breathtaking landscapes, Medieval and Ottoman architecture, traditional villages, beautiful beaches, the purest of culinary culture,  thermal springs,  and an authentic and unspoiled traditional Greek way of life all year round.

 

Asaf Gottesman and Gottesman Szmelcman Architecture's work in Lesbos began in 2005 and we were commissioned to rationalize the two sites in order to either attain financing or co-investors. From Lesbos’ eastern shores one sees the silhouette of Asia Minor and the shores of Turkey. The island’s strategic location is one of the reasons for its exceptionally rich history, as well as, the primary cause for its relative obscurity as a tourist destination. Perceived for many years as a Greek military stronghold, it has unfortunately become the first pilgrim stop of those escaping the Middle East on their way to Northern Europe. Yet back in 2005, Lesbos offered a new vision of leisure tourism within a particularly rich landscape and culture. 

 

The thread that unites all our projects is one of sensitivity and respect for location and culture.  In developing a vision for a site-specific scheme that encompassed hospitality and agriculture, we sought to balance the needs of both the island and those investors. After an extensive and intensive research and design process, additional plots were purchased under our guidance in order to ensure their coherence. The two schemes we developed drew the attention of a group of Greek investors who paid a substantial premium for the project.

WHAT

Urban Planning & Hospitality

WHO

Gottesman Szmelcman Architecture

 

WHERE

Lesbos, Greece

WHEN

2005-2007