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A house on the Sicilian Sea

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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In the 1950s, a new building was erected on the rocks of the Bay of Marzamemi on a base of stone by the dam that protects the Sicilian coast. The house was designed on the border of an ancient fishing village from the XVII century, which still gives this town in the province of Syracuse its characteristic appearance. About two years ago, the new owner, an Italian artist, commissioned the studio Indice Creativo to renovate this house by the sea. The result is a perfect balance of natural, locally-sourced building materials and modern minimalism.

A shining gem on the coast

​As we approach the bay, the gleaming white profile of the house immediately signals its presence halfway between the clear skies and the wonderful sea horizon.

Perfect, essential geometry combines effortlessly with the coastal nature and the structures of the older building.

The terrace and the entrance

We are now at the entrance. A stone terrace offers us a view of this stretch of the Mediterranean as we stand in the shade of the thick sandstone walls, which faithfully echo the original structures. Lime and pozzolan were the only new materials introduced, responding to the need to protect the masonry from waves and salt.

​The absolute white is broken only by the thin lines demarcating the fixtures, as shown here at the entrance way. The whiteness provides a lovely backdrop for the wooden handle and the delicate decorative fish pattern: a tribute to the traditions of the area, whose economy was based mainly on tuna fishing, a craft that is still practised.


The white stone from Modica defines the interior as simple and bright, the perfect setting from which to admire the view of the island of Cape Passero and the Hyblaean Mountains in the distance: we have only to cross to the window for the majestic scene to unfold before our gaze. On the far wall to our right, placed in a niche, a colourful mosaic dampens the predominance of white. 

​The rich wooden tones of the door and the furniture highlight the sand-coloured pavement, which also extends outside, bordering the dam.

A corridor of light

​Exposed beams effectively divide the interior space and, despite their whitewash, reveal to us the nature of the wooden roof. The luminous hallway, which provides entrance to the kitchen and the sleeping area, is designed, according to the original intent of the owner, as a place of silence and stillness: a place for reading and contemplating the sea.

A simple bedroom

​The simplicity of the bedroom is refined by another mosaic, this time under the window recess. The ocean scene in the mosaic playfully mirrors the real sea, which peers in through the window just above. The artwork depicts nets used by the ancient Marzamemi fishermen. The recurrence of this theme throughout the décor comes as no surprise: the ancient village that is home to our house on the sea is one of the most important tuna fishing areas of Sicily, dating back to the times of Arab rule.

What do you think of this design? Let us know in the comments.
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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