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Greece’s Best Architects: Plaini and Karahalios Architects

About Plaini & Karahalios Architects

Plaini and Karahalios Architects was founded in 2011 and is a collaboration between Elisavet Plaini and John Karahalios. Elisavet studied at the University of East London and at the University of Westminster. John studied at the National Technical University of Athens and received his master’s degree from Columbia University. Their work deals with both public and private spaces – both commercial and residential. Their philosophy is to analyze the relationship between the public and private space in each one of their projects, and to balance personal creativity with the impact on the surrounding area. 

House in Ekali | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

Plaini & Karahalios Philosophy

We had the opportunity to sit down with founders Elivaset and John, and to hear their unique perspective.

 

How Do Use Color to Your Advantage?

Elisavet and John’s projects often feature an element that is painted a different color to make it stand out. The team noted in an interview with Archisearch.gr that “color can be a way to unify spatial situations.” In other words, color is a way to highlight the boundaries of different elements in a room. It is a simple process to visually communicate the beauty of geometry.

Vacation House in Karyes II | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

What are your Hopes for the Future of the Company?

Elisavet answered this question first. The goal of their work is to come in harmony with the natural environment, and also to align to the specific requirements of the project. For example, “the direction of the house, the vegetation, and the qualities of the existing house on that site all need to be taken into consideration.”

 

Giannis adds that during renovations, the current structure is maintained because it already has it’s own value. There is no need to tear it down to come up with a new idea. In fact, using as much of it as possible is very practical. “The personal flair of the architect is not so important, but it is most important to take care of something that already exists and bring out its best side.”

Baba Ghanoush 02 | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

What is the Future of Architecture in Greece?

Giannis answered this question first, mentioning the younger generation, which “has traveled more and will bring big ideas to the world of Greek architecture.” This could end up with good or bad results, and it is our responsibility to take positive aspects from this. For example, we see a lifestyle push for the “villa in the islands” but there should be some limits on how and where we build, as the islands fill up. 

 

Elisavet adds that “being an architect is difficult.” You have to take this effect on the natural environment into account. This ultimately is a responsibility not just for the architect, but for everybody involved with the development. As a society, we must collectively decide the future of Greece’s lands.

Häc Concept Store | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

Plaini & Karahalios Architects Projects

Baba Ghanoush 2

This restaurant is located in a typical apartment block in Athens from the 1970s, in the Pangrati neighborhood. The store is set on 50 square meters on a popular street. The space was given 2 unique zones – The facade area is white and includes a number of booths and a large central table. The walls and the floor feature beech wood. The second zone is at the back of the store, which is painted blue and represents routes to the kitchen and the washrooms. The restaurant will serve falafel, pita wraps, burgers, soups, salads, and of course – baba ghanoush, one of the best middle eastern dips. It will be Baba Ghanoush’s second storefront in Athens. 

Baba Ghanoush 02 | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

Apartment in Korydallos

This project transforms an existing 1980s apartment into a living space for a family of four. Three private rooms and a common area needed to sit into 80 square meters. The whole arrangement of the space needed to be reconsidered, and different color signified the boundaries between rooms. For example, the common area featured a pink entryway, a blue kitchen, and a white sitting area.

Apartment in Korydallos | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

In the center of the apartment is the all-important dining area. Panels of birch wood line the walls and the ceiling. The room feels more intimate because the ceiling is fairly low. After the renovation, it’s hard to believe that the apartment was built in the 1980s.

Apartment in Korydallos | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

House in Karyes II

This two-story building from the early 20th century is a village house in Evia where the main living area was on the street level, and the area underground was used for agriculture. Plain & Karahalios then took on the challenge of turning the building into a contemporary vacation house. The upper and the lower level are distinct from one another, with the upper level being an area for living in the winter, and the lower level for the summer.

Vacation House in Karyes II | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

The upper level reminds you of the old main house and keeps many of its elements. The ceiling and the walls are green, matching the mountains. The floor materials are what define the different rooms – the materials used include forged cement, cement tiles, and oak wood. In contrast, the downstairs is almost entirely white. 

Vacation House in Karyes II | © Plaini & Karahalios Architects

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