Page C1.1 . 22 September 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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  • Southernness in Architecture
  • Prison Imperfection

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    Postcard from the Cyclades

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    Stacked, white, boxlike buildings in the hillside village of Lefkes, on Paros Island in the Greek Cyclades. Photography by Rose Mattick.

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    Inland village of Lefkes.

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    Coastal house.

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    Port town.


    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    Traveling in the Greek Isles often entails long trips on a ferry. Any tedium, however, in a journey through the Cyclades is amply offset by gorgeous views of passing islands, each dotted with tableaus of striking white, boxlike buildings. In port towns, these buildings generally stand out as individual cuboids with streets and alleys between them.

    In towns inland, however, this space between the cubes disappears. One day, on Paros Island, I took a short bus ride to the village of Lefkes, twelve miles (19 kilometers) inland, near the center of the island. Trying to find the Byzantine path, the ancient road that is now only used as a walking trail, I soon became lost in the maze of Lefkes' narrow streets.

    In comparison to the more open road pattern of the port town Parikia, Lefkes is very compact. Various houses and stores connect in ways that appear random to a visitor. Here, unlike on the coastline, the cubed buildings are stacked so that from afar, they look like giant steps up the hillside or building blocks piled on a slope.

    Pure in form and color, this Greek architecture embodies a simple beauty. Yet the endless combination of forms possible in the composition of these towns makes them inherently fascinating.

    On the road in the Cyclades, Greece
    Rose Mattick

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