Who knew a roof could become an Internet sensation?
At the picture-perfect Greek resort of Costa Navarino in Greece, that’s exactly what’s happened. The Barbouni beach bar restaurant’s canopy ceiling has become ubiquitous on Instagram, thanks to an incredible architectural feat – when the wind ripples through the ridged canopy, the roof whistles and moves in the breeze.
The restaurant opened in 2011, but it recently went semi-viral thanks to a video post from Instagrammer @Levanterman – see below – who captured hypnotic footage of the undulating roof while visiting Costa Navarino.
The restaurant was designed by Greek architectural design company k-studio – the company says it was inspired by the incredible surrounding landscape. “We wanted to kind of echo that onto the building, we didn’t want to have a static structure right in front of this dynamic landscape,” Dimitris Karampatakis, one of the two partners at K-studio, tells CNN Travel.
“The architects took inspiration for the Barbouni roof from the dynamic and hypnotic movement of the waves of the sea in front of the restaurant,” Costantza Sbokou-Constantakopoulou, the Senior Architect at TEMES, the developers behind Costa Navarino, tells CNN Travel.
Barbouni restaurant sits on a wooden platform and is composed of natural wooden columns. The idea is these natural materials – teamed with the rippling effect – help establish a fusion between sea and land.
The roof itself is made out of a specialized outdoor curtain fabric.
“We did loads of tests with fabric and different materials, in the beginning,” explains Karampatakis. “We ended up with this fabric, outdoor fabric and played with that for a while until we figured out that we needed a thread that connects the bottom end and then makes this smooth motion when it was hit by the wind.”
The ceiling ripples at different speeds depending on how windy it is that day.
“It is echoing exactly the landscape. So when there’s loads of waves this is quite an animated ceiling and other times it’s quite slow so it’s quite fun,” says Karampatakis.
Of course the ceiling has occasionally been damaged in the wind – the owners have replacements and it’s taken down during the off-season.
“[The architects] wanted to allow the wind to animate and play with the building in the same way that it animates and plays with the water surface, so that the building and the sea are in tune with each other and connected by the movement of the wind from moment to moment,” says Sbokou-Constantakopoulou.
The swanky Costa Navarino resort is in the Greek region of Messinia in the southwest area of Peloponnese. The area has powdery white sand and turquoise waters, plus 5-star hotels, golf courses and spa centers.
“Barbouni was designed with the experiential impact in mind, focusing on how it would feel to sit beneath this dynamic ceiling, so close to the water,” adds Sbokou-Constantakopoulou.
However, the architect insists the restaurant wasn’t designed with social media fame in mind – in 2011, Instagram was around (the platform launched in October 2010), but the “Instagrammification” of restaurants, hotels and bars hadn’t really taken off.
When k-studio were brought on board, the company had already created a quirky ceiling at Alemagou, a beach bar on the Greek island of Mykonos – that took its inspiration from Cycladic architecture and has a natural reed-thatched roof insulation.
Karampatakis says their aim at Costa Navarino was to create “a strong experience, a strong kind of feeling.”
“‘Instagrammable’ moments did not yet exist, but as they have become more popular the restaurant has become more widely admired,” adds Sbokou-Constantakopoulou.
The beach bar’s popularity on social media might be an accident, but for the Costa Navarino team, it’s a happy one:
“The design of Barbouni together with the use of technology in photography and video, has had a very positive effect across social media, which we were very happy about!” says Sbokou-Constantakopoulou.
“Over the last seven years, it’s been documented throughout and you can kind of see how it’s evolving,” says Karampatakis. “So it’s quite interesting how, in a way, it’s not such a fleeting moment it’s more of a lasting, lasting experience.”
Internet fame, explains Sbokou-Constantakopoulou, is one part of the roof’s “journey” and allows it to take on a timeless quality.
“Timeless design still has value, and more significant design stories can still be told,” she says.