When Greece first flourished as a preferred vacationer vacation spot, someplace within the mid-Twentieth century, it was largely for its well-established charms – heat solar, good meals, crystal-clear seashores and treasures of an antiquity that helped outline immediately’s Western civilisation. Quick ahead nearly a century, and all this stays true – if a little bit clichéd by now. But up to date Greece is way richer than its well-explored tropes. Athens, specifically, at the moment packs fairly a punch, making a robust case for a sort of transcendence, embodying numerous phases within the nation’s historical past whereas offering a melting pot the place recent traits, international influences and time-honed native traditions meet. ‘Athens is breaking away from an over-edited, idealised, antiquity-driven picture,’ says Nicholas Yatromanolakis, the nation’s Deputy Minister of Tradition and Sports activities. ‘Every thing coexists right here – totally different kinds and intervals – and we have to embrace it. We even have a robust open air tradition and you might be all the time uncovered to a really layered city area,it’s its mix that makes Athens distinctive.’
Recent takes on traditional Athenian moments, combined with totally new choices, symbolize an ever-evolving up to date Greek id that’s a lot much less about trying again, and extra a few optimistic future for the Mediterranean nation. There’s a reimagining of a few of the metropolis’s best modernist structure; a growth within the hospitality trade; a transfer in the direction of sustainability; and a wave of recent cultural locations. Creativity is operating excessive, and Athens is on an upward trajectory, following a ten-year interval of financial woes, political modifications, and, in fact, the troubles introduced by the worldwide pandemic, all of which hit town arduous. But right here we’re, and the Greek capital appears to be heading in the direction of sunnier instances.
The previous Athens Hilton
The previous Hilton Athens, one of many metropolis’s most recognisable Twentieth-century buildings, represents this effectively. Initially constructed between 1958 and 1963, throughout that period of optimism and development, and designed by Greek modernists Emmanuel Vourekas, Prokopis Vasileiadis and Spyro Staikos, it options site-specific reliefs by celebrated native artist Yannis Moralis, the most important swimming pool within the metropolis, and was its first worldwide model resort – no surprise friends have included Aristotle Onassis and Frank Sinatra. It got here to be such a landmark that the entire neighbourhood round it took its title. However the noughties discovered it in want of a refresh, and it was purchased by Greek developer Ionian Resort Enterprises (IHE), (TEMES, the powerhouse that owns the favored and ever-growing Costa Navarino resort advanced within the Peloponnese, holds a controlling stake in IHE). Now, it’s being introduced into the twenty first century with a model new idea for a luxurious resort and personal residences to be developed by Hilton and IHE, in partnership with Conrad Motels & Resorts, Conrad Residences and Waldorf Astoria Residences. The group behind it, together with studios akin to AETER Architects Charry C Bougadelis & Associates, Tristan Auer and AvroKO, goals to supply an unprecedented life-style vacation spot for town, with a members membership, a number of culinary, entertaining, leisure and wellness choices, in addition to a model new poolside pavilion restaurant by Yabu Pushelberg. Building is ongoing, and the primary friends ought to arrive in 2024.
The Nationwide Museum of Up to date Artwork Αthens (EMST)
The previous Hilton shouldn’t be the one modernist jewel in Athens’ crown to be given a brand new lease of life. One of many metropolis’s most notable cultural attracts, the Nationwide Museum of Up to date Artwork Αthens (EMST), launched its new residence in 2020 – though the following pandemic closures meant it wasn’t absolutely accessible till June 2022. It’s now situated within the remodeled break of the previous Repair brewery. Created in 1963 by Greek modernist Takis Zenetos – and dubbed by locals the ‘horizontal skyscraper’ for its elegant strains, but additionally its sheer scale – the constructing is now a contemporary artwork area due to a revamp by 3SK Stylianidis Architects, in collaboration with Kalliope Kontozoglou, I Mouzakis & Associates-Architects, and Tim Ronalds Architects. The area feels recent and fantastically match for function – if maybe a little bit too faraway from its earlier life (the constructing’s previous doesn’t come by significantly strongly – and 40 per cent of it was demolished to make method for the native metro, to appreciable controversy, earlier than it was reassigned as an artwork area). Nonetheless, it’s a major arts hub for Athens, and its creative director, Katerina Gregos, appointed final 12 months, guarantees a brand new period for its shows too.
Piraeus Tower and extra by the port and Syngrou Avenue
In the meantime the long-abandoned fashionable break of the 1972 Piraeus Tower, the second tallest in Greece, is at the moment being reimagined as a mixed-use scheme, geared toward redefining the busy, but considerably architecturally uncared for, port district of Piraeus. The developer behind it, Athens primarily based Dimand, is among the metropolis’s most design-led gamers in actual property. The undertaking’s particular new façade is by younger studio PILA (native studio Betaplan acted because the lead architect for the general scheme), based by architect Ilias Papageorgiou, who left a associate place at New York’s SO-IL in 2019 to return to Athens and arrange store on his personal. ‘After ten years of a harsh financial disaster, Greece is present process a speedy transformation on many fronts,’ he says. ‘This constructing is located on a very essential a part of the broader metropolis of Athens. We see the “awakening” of the deserted construction of the Tower as sparking a broader regeneration, permitting for the lifetime of town to maneuver nearer to the water.’ Dimand COO Olga Itsiou provides, ‘The Piraeus Tower was an unfinished constructing, a sleeping big for greater than 40 years. It has by no means operated apart from minimal business makes use of on the bottom and first two flooring. It was not full of folks. [Now], places of work, retailers, a gymnasium, an all-day restaurant, and a café will allow roughly 2,000 folks to work there.’
The tower’s transformation into glossy places of work and retail area additionally contains public landscaping, which can reframe the port’s pedestrian entry and circulation through a brand new inexperienced footbridge. Sustainability has been a giant a part of the plan too, because the group ensured a variety of eco-friendly methods are used, akin to its louvres, which cut back photo voltaic acquire on the façade by 45 per cent; the usage of photovoltaic panels; and the recycling of greater than 5,000 sq m of glass throughout building, a proportion of which shall be put in as new glass within the undertaking.
Comparable themes round neighborhood and sustainability are discovered in additional Dimand initiatives. A few of the firm’s property within the close by Agios Dionysios neighbourhood (also called Papastratos, from the namesake tobacco model that had its manufacturing unit right here within the final century) embody workplace areas that breathe new life into the realm, coinciding with the arrival of neighbours that created a brand new worldwide artwork district Galleries Rodeo, Carwan and The Intermission have made Agios Dionysios their residence, reviving the previously uncared for industrial space.
Additional up Syngrou Avenue in the direction of town centre, a brand new workplace hub by Athens- and London-based Divercity Architects and Bennetts Associates for Dimand is hailed as one of many metropolis’s most eco-friendly workspaces, matching elegant design and minimalist seems with LEED Gold focusing on inexperienced credentials – together with the usage of recycled or native supplies, and cautious shading and view-framing methods – to advertise well being and wellbeing. ‘Having had the time to mirror on the teachings the final couple of years have taught us, town feels extra extrovert, extra dynamic and extra artistic than ever, and it’s infectious,’ says considered one of Divercity’s founders, Nikolas Travasaros. ‘Initiatives of all scales are on the rise. It’s a great spot to be for structure studios, with town shaping and reinventing itself right into a extra up to date capital.’
The previous Ellinikon airport
Athens additionally performs host to one of many largest redevelopment websites within the nation (and at 6,200,000 sq m, in all probability the entire of Europe) – the previous Ellinikon airport, which is being reinvented as an unlimited, mixed-use neighbourhood by house owners Lamda Improvement. The substantial website will function town’s largest public park (by Sasaki Associates in collaboration with Greek structure agency Doxiadis+); a choice of designs by native and worldwide architects, akin to Foster + Companions, Kengo Kuma & Associates and Aedas; and a restored piece of world architectural historical past – Eero Saarinen’s East Terminal (constructed within the Sixties), which has remained largely unused because the transport hub formally transferred to the present Eleftherios Venizelos airport in 2004 in time for the Athens Olympic Video games. Whereas the undertaking is sort of far off from completion, some components, akin to Foster + Companions’ Marina Tower, are underway. A lately opened customer hub, The Ellinikon Expertise Centre, in a reimagined plane hangar on website, provides a style of what’s to return. Skyscrapers, greenery and mixed-use seaside neighbourhoods dubbed by the builders ‘the Athens Riviera’, showcase how town would possibly change – fairly drastically so too, given the distinct absence of extremely excessive rise buildings in the entire of Greece.
Fashionable Athens hospitality
Extra alternatives for reinvention can be found extra centrally too, because the high-profile competitors for the redevelopment of the Nationwide Archaeology museum is at the moment underway – one of many many alternatives for architects within the nation, says Xristina Argyros, co-founder of London-based studio Neiheiser Argyros, which lately established a second base in Athens. ‘There’s a vary of thrilling initiatives taking place in Greece, and general extra alternatives than earlier than for youthful practices to take part. We’ve seen a bigger variety of public competitions, but additionally many undertaking initiatives by builders akin to Dimand and Intracom that worth the newer concepts and sensibilities that youthful rising practices are placing on the desk.’.
This upsurge in cultural exercise has inevitably introduced an inflow of hospitality venues. Motels of all sizes and shapes have been popping up throughout city. Ksenodoxeio Milos is amongst them, a grand, luxurious up to date area, designed by Divercity Architects. Its restaurant, Estiatorio Milos, serves a few of the finest fish in Athens – having relocated from its former spot within the Hilton to its new residence a stone’s throw from Syntagma Sq.. Established venues akin to Milos are juxtaposed with smaller, boutique outfits, such because the art-filled, live-like-an-Athenian, mini resort M18 by Oliaros on the foot of the Acropolis; and Mona – an industrial-space-cum-experimental-hotel, members membership, and occasion venue that additionally showcases as a part of its idea a variety of impartial Greek designers and artists of all disciplines within the stylish Psirri neighbourhood.
Such is Athens’ pull that worldwide artwork dynamo Gagosian has bolstered its presence right here with a brand new residence in 2020, designed by Kois Related Architects within the upmarket Kolonaki district. One among its current exhibitions celebrated the nation’s cultural affect by the work of legendary designer Marc Newson. The present presents new limited-edition furnishings, together with a few of Newson’s most celebrated works – offered in Greece’s nationwide colors of blue and white. ‘Greece is a rustic that’s near my coronary heart, my grandfather was from there. I’ve spent each summer season there for the final 24 years,’ says Newson. He talks in regards to the nation’s enduring artistic affect on his work. ‘It has all the time been in my consciousness, I draw in all probability extra inspiration from it than I do know. I used to be one of many first folks working with marble in a up to date method 25 years in the past. I’m making an attempt to champion Greek producers and abilities that could be now dying – there’s this excellent experience there. I all the time wished to do one thing in Greece and the time was proper, now, with Gagosian. Athens is an thrilling up to date vacation spot. I’m already pondering of the following factor I do there.’
Curator and researcher Katerina Papanikolopoulos feels that attraction in the direction of the native cultural heritage too. The Greek-Cypriot-American artistic moved from the US to Athens in 2020 and arrange the non-profit Athens Design Discussion board cultural pageant. In some ways it’s nonetheless in its infancy – solely two editions in, it beforehand centered on structure and artwork, with a 3rd iteration turning its consideration to movie, craft and labour at the moment in growth. The annual occasion goals to rejoice and discover the totally different dimensions of design pondering in Athens and the nation past. Papanikolopoulos hopes to shine a light-weight on Greek vernacular crafts, take a look at intersections of outdated and new practices, and uncover design past the crushed observe, in all its kinds. Examples of her strategy embody celebrating the not often seen Kypseli home which she opened to the general public for ADF’s inaugural occasion, thereby highlighting the work of lesser-known Greek modernist Aristomenis Provelengios.
Nikos Vatopoulous – artwork editor of the most important nationwide broadsheet Kathimerini, creator of the e book Strolling in Athens and self-appointed flaneur – has written extensively in regards to the capital’s layered id and particularly its lesser identified, ‘on a regular basis’ architectural gems, versus the well-documented monuments. ‘You get crumbling homes juxtaposed with fashionable concrete buildings, all eras subsequent to one another directly,’ he has stated, referring to Athens’ ‘secret panorama.’ And it’s simply that, town’s evolving, multi-layered urbanscape, that’s shining dynamically by immediately’s Athens – fuelling its cultural rise, and probably the place its energy could lie. ‘Athens caters for very totally different tastes and experiences,’ concludes Deputy Minister of Tradition and Sports activities Yatromanolakis. ‘And we’ve a imaginative and prescient to do extra – showcase Greek crafts extra, create area for artists and grassroots exercise, discover much less travelled paths of Greek tradition. We additionally need to put money into creating artists’ abilities and enrich cultural experiences throughout all fields.’
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A model of this story seems in January 2023 Wallpaper*, The Future Situation, out there now in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple Information +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* immediately (opens in new tab)