Pergola - Lesvos

Normally, when you imagine a pergola, you think of something simple and purely functional. Instead, we saw a bigger potential for a structure that would radically change the perception of the area. It has not only become an eye-catcher for the visitors but also an important gathering space for both young and older people.

We opted for playful shapes, tectonic expressions and refined ornaments to create contrast with the flat containersThe covers do not only fulfil the functionality of pergola – creating shade – they also create a ceiling, making it a space of enclosure and restfulness. We observed how the children like to come together and sit on the benches to just take a break and relax next to the plant beds, talking more quietly and staring with a soft gaze in front of them..


Limited by the material options of the island, the pergola’s structure is almost made up of one single ingredient: 4 x 4 cm wooden beams. We used this limitation to our creative advantage, seeking for the richest expression with the most basic material. Looking at different cultures for our references, we found our own structural language, with the 4 x 4 cm square block as the basis for a pattern language. 

We created strength, while keeping the structure light, and transparent. Elevated by metal bars and strips, the structure seems to float above the ground. The space in between the column beams offers grip for the grapevines to climb up. The many blocks and explicit details are structurally reinforcing, and ornamental at the same time. 

Varying between a Japanese-style bench and the totem-pole-like expression, we invite the visitors to discover new associations and perspectives. This way, the pergola is intended as a reflection of dignity, a unique object in the context of a refugee camp.

Playful elements

To create more interactivity and play into the area. We made a couple of swings out of boat-ropes and beams. The children could not be more excited, using them all day long. Some of them were keen on testing how high the swing could lift them towards the sky, others were just happy to wobble a bit back and forth, calming their body and mind.

With every addition we were very careful with predicting the emotional effects on the overall space, hence we decided to attach the swings with clips so that the care-takers can from time to time remove them, in order to make the space more restful. The same goes for the canvases, that can be easily removed and reattached to adapt to weather changes.

The Pergola is a truly multifunctional and multi-atmospheric space, adaptive to every situation inside the education area. And in all cases, it elevates the area into a more harmonious whole.

Location | Lesvos, Greece
Date | April – June 2022, 6 weeks
Partner | NGO Metadrasi
Project | Outdoor multifunctional space; creation of timber structures, play elements, and installation of canvas
Dimensions | 4 x 6 x 3 m, space for about 16 children