The Dolunay villa, a private paradise on the Aegean Sea, on the southwest coast of Turkey. Designed by Foster + Partners. Furnished by Interni Design Experience Milano with custom creations Made in Italy. When precise engineering meets manual know-how and excellence

An overhanging undulating roof, with a 7.5 meters cantilever, protects and shades the outdoor space like an umbrella, beyond a two-story glass ‘screen’ with transparent glass doors that blur the boundary between the inside and the outside. The restrained aesthetic of this amazing villa on the Aegean coast, in the province of Mugla, southwestern Turkey, immediately suggests it is a project by Foster + Partners. The house is placed on a site measuring 17,568 square meters, with an internal area of 1064 square meters on two above-ground levels, which are 64.5 meters long and 20.5 meters wide. The ensemble is completed with the addition of a sunset pavilion in stone, wood and bamboo, amidst olive trees with a view of the sea.


Norman Foster
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Norman Foster was born in Manchester in 1935. After graduating from Manchester University School of Architecture and City Planning in 1961 he won a Henry Fellowship to Yale University, where he gained a Master’s Degree in Architecture. He is the founder and chairman of Foster + Partners. Founded in London in 1967, Foster + Partners is a global studio for sustainable architecture, engineering, urbanism and industrial design, founded by Norman Foster in 1967. Since then, he, and the team around him, have established an international practice with a worldwide reputation. With offices across the globe, we work as a single studio that is both ethnically and culturally diverse.

We are far removed from the scale of infrastructural projects, bridges and museums (just consider the airport built on the artificial atoll of Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong), the work of British architecture studio, Foster + Partners. But even here, in this smaller work, nothing has been left to chance. And there is more to discover. The iconic cantilevered roof in undulated wood, finished by hand, is a prefabricated structure that relies on high-precision engineering. The solid structural oak beams resting on steel columns ensure the use of substantially less carbon than in a typical concrete roof.

“We have designed it as an ideal projection of the rocky site into which the overall volume of the house is embedded, offering a fine view of the sea on the south side with a continuous glazing. On the north side the main entrance is reached along a sinuous descending road,” says Niall Dempsey, a partner at Foster + Partners. Thanks to optimization of the contours of the site and the use of local vegetation, visitors perceive a single-story volume as they approach the entrance, set amidst a Mediterranean garden that is a multisensory experience of colors and aromas, with fragrant plants such as thyme and lavender alongside rich seasonal planting and mature olive trees. “In the summer it is incredibly hot here. This is why we wanted the architecture to breathe naturally,” Dempsey continues.

“The two courtyards located on the northern side near the entrance door feature stone and timber boards, allowing the sea breeze to flow through as well as different degrees of privacy in the journey through the house, from opaque to open.” The discovery of a fluid, invigorating dimension brings the Mediterranean landscape and sunshine into the interior spaces and becomes a programmatic manifesto for the house. The layout calls for more private family zones on the eastern side, and more public, open areas for entertaining and living to the west, with exceptional views of the setting sun over the Aegean. The clarity of the spatial organization enhances the variety of sensory impressions, with shifts of lighting and atmosphere across the day, also setting the mood in the large bedrooms with fine views.

The central feature of the composition, also in symbolic terms, is the helical indoor staircase that connects the entrance level to the main floor below. An lithe sculpture in Portuguese limestone, it is supported by post-tensioned cables running through the Fatima stone with no other visible supports. The staircase offers a feeling of lightness, where the balustrades are made from thin glass tubes with a timber handrail that has been bent and shaped on site. It is the most effective image of the dual themes embodying the project: high-precision technology and manual craftsmanship. The materials applied throughout the villa have been installed by local artisans, in tune with the spirit of the place: from the solid wooden doors carved by hand to the custom-sized ceramic tiles, the basins with sculpted stone in the bathrooms and the hammam, to the oak paneling that brings a relaxed, intimate atmosphere to this coastal refuge.

The materials applied throughout the villa have been installed by local artisans, in tune with the spirit of the place."

The central feature of the composition, also in symbolic terms, is the helical indoor staircase that connects the entrance level to the main floor below. An lithe sculpture in Portuguese limestone, it is supported by post-tensioned cables running through the Fatima stone with no other visible supports. The staircase offers a feeling of lightness, where the balustrades are made from thin glass tubes with a timber handrail that has been bent and shaped on site. It is the most effective image of the dual themes embodying the project: high-precision technology and manual craftsmanship. The materials applied throughout the villa have been installed by local artisans, in tune with the spirit of the place: from the solid wooden doors carved by hand to the custom-sized ceramic tiles, the basins with sculpted stone in the bathrooms and the hammam, to the oak paneling that brings a relaxed, intimate atmosphere to this coastal refuge.

Inspired by the natural hues of the context, the palette features oak and limestone for the floors; various types of marble and onyx (Panda, Calacatta Statuario, Thassos) for the walls; painted plaster and fabrics for the ceilings, in tones of bronze, sand and gray. In this setting, part of the overall narrative is spoken in Italian. With pride. The interpretation, through successive phases, of the spirit of the precious enclosure has been the engaging task of the team of Interni Design Experience, with the collaboration of the architect Massimo Castagna, who have supported Foster + Partners, supervising supply of furnishings rigorously Made in Italy, including many custom solutions.

We have designed the iconic cantilevered roof as an ideal projection of the rocky site into which the overall volume of the house is embedded, offering a fine view of the sea on the south side with a continuous glazing. On the north side the main entrance is reached along a sinuous descending road."

A high level of personalization becomes excellence when it meets with Italian craftsmanship and manual skill, making a visible, concrete difference with respect to industrial production. Since “one thing leads to another,” as Bruno Munari reminds us, the outdoor products created and developed by Massimo Castagna for this project have found new applications. “Only in a subsequent phase did I decide to build the Collezione 10th of Exteta around these pieces,” says the art director of the brand.

Project Foster + Partners - Design Team David Summerfield, Kirsten Scott, Niall Dempsey, Ignacio Diaz, Sunil Rajaratnam, Ana Reis, Daniel Rodrigues, Guy Stewart, Rob Seymour, Luca Caroti  - Collaborating architects Design Group Istanbul, Artiko architects  - Structural and lighting engineering Design Group Istanbul - Main contractor Matte Construction & Development

Furnishings and materials Interni Design Experience spa Milano with the collaboration of Arch. Massimo Castagna - Photos courtesy of Nigel Young/Foster + Partners