Housed within a residence designed by Greek architect Constantinos Decavallas in the 1950’s, this performance and exhibit space unites family heritage with contemporary art practice and residency projects.
Designing the foundation of the Santozeum was not an easy task for Decavallas. The setting in the core of Fira’s steep topography forced the architect to construct a sequence of spaces rather than an architectural object: half carved into the rocks and half facing streets and pathways, opening up to the spectacular view on the caldera. Thus the spatial sequence became a fusion of traditional cave- like rooms and modern, generous spaces oriented towards breathtaking cliff- top views. The only coherent forms were the arcades framing the external building volumes on different levels. Different traces to discover: two fire places for cooking for extensive dinner parties; two decorative fire places for social gathering; a series of wall-papered guest-bedrooms with private bathrooms for illustrious visitors; the big meeting hall for the villagers to gather; a collection of furniture of the most eclectic taste in vivid contrast to the white washed spaces.
Two major interventions occurred during the 2011 refurbishment of the Santozeum designed by Swiss Architect Jörg Stollmann (Chair for Urban Design & Architecture, TU Berlin Institut für Architektur). Stollmann’s renovation separated the private spaces on the top floor from the public spaces through a skylight on top of the big staircase and an electric over-installation for simple, changeable light fixtures that allow the adaptability of all spaces in the house for either exhibition or domestic use. With each new season, the building can house exhibitions, become a laboratory for artists in residence, host conferences and performances, or simply – a party.