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Hélène Binet Captures a Hidden Architectural Gem in Cyprus

The Swiss photographer explores the untouched family home of modernist designer Neoptolemos Michaelides

by Adam Stech
on 06 January 2015
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The modernist work of the late Cypriot architect Neoptolemos Michaelides fuses Brutalism, ancient architecture and the leisure of Mediterranean living. Michaelides studied under great architects like Gio Ponti and Bruno Zevi in the 1940s, but his distinctive style remained relatively unknown to the international public. An exhibition at Nicosia's Point Centre for Contemporary Art is changing that. "We wanted to focus upon the outstanding work of Neoptolemos Michaelides, one of the key figures of architectural modernism in Cyprus, and simultaneously open the discourse around it at an international level," says Point Centre's cultural manager Demetra Ignatiou.

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Celebrated Swiss architecture photographer Hélène Binet was commissioned by Point Centre to capture the family house which Michaelides built for himself and his wife (and fellow artist) Maria during the mid-1960s. Binet spent time in and around the house, engaging with it extensively. Her intimate experience there is evident in her abstract photographic style, rendered in both color and black and white images.

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The house remains a strong testimony of its time. Still in its original state and closed to the public since the couple passed away, the building is now under state control and the Maria and Neoptolemos Michaelides Foundation. The modernist treasure, composed of concrete overhanging slabs, a vaulted roof, expanding terraces, sculptural staircases and glass surfaces are untouched and tell the story of this highly creative couple. The interior of the house highlights pure and simple volumes, graphical concrete surfaces and wooden features such as railings reminding the old prehistoric elements.

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The underlying theme in the work of Binet is the interplay of light, shadow and texture of materials and architectural elements. And throughout these themes, she also rediscovered and re-imagined the unknown yet important architectural heritage of Cyprus.

The photographic exhibition is on view until 31 January 2015 at Point Centre in Nicosia.

Images courtesy of Hélène Binet

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