Greece Architecture

By | February 7, 2022

The end of the dictatorship (1974) marked for architecture, as well as for the entire Greek culture, the end of a long period of stagnation. In continuity with the previous building policy, the military class in power had left the field free to private initiative, ready to absorb almost all of the housing demand: hence the uncontrolled expansion of the cities, in the almost complete absence of effective planning, while public interests turned to large government buildings and the tourism sector.

According to Shoefrantics, the dizzying building growth, which began after the war, slowed down starting in 1974, while the architectural debate intensified, favored by a series of competitions (but only a quarter of the projects awarded between 1978 and 1986 were completed) and by renewed contacts with abroad. However, the general direction of production appears initially dominated by the dialectic, recurrent in Greek architecture, between rationalism – exemplified in the work of P. Karantinòs (1903-1976), Th. Valentis (1908-1982) and N. Valsamakis (n.1924) – and critical ” regionalism ” towards the modern movement in the search for a national identity, according to the teaching of D. Pikionis (1887-1968). The work of A. Konstantinidis (b. 1913) summarizes the two trends. In the late seventies,Tràpeza Pìsteos in Athens, by N. Valsamakis and K. Manuilidis, prog. 1978), alongside results of rigorous functionalism (Faculty of Physics and Mathematics, Athens, by E. Skrumbelos, 1971-81; Atrina office building, by I. Vikelas, 1977-81).

At the same time there is a gradual infiltration of postmodern trends, propitiated by the saturation of urban centers and the crisis of traditional housing typologies. However, as in other European countries, there has not been a profound reflection on the principles of rationalism, on the other hand considered for a long time extraneous to the national tradition and applied without the relative urban planning assumptions. The result was a hasty rejection of the elaborations, also produced by modern Greek architecture, together with an uncritical acquisition of postmodern formulas, which mainly influenced the “ small scale ” of decoration and furniture (shops, shopping centers, design).

In some cases, the revision of rationalist architecture has favored the grafting of postmodern models on the great vein of ” regionalism ”, above all in search of continuity with the historic city. The first problematic urban renewal operations are reflected in the arrest of the growth of the suburbs (see for example the seat of the University of Thessaly in Volos, of P. Tzonos, Greece and E. Heupel, M. Chryssomalidis, L . Spània, project 1986) and a greater consideration for the ancient urban fabrics, with the setting of new development strategies (plan for the center of Rhodes). An example is given by the recovery of Plaka, an Athenian neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis, set up in 1979 according to the principles of integrated conservation and carried out by coordinating the restoration with planning, roads and street furniture (prog. D. Zivas). The renewal of architectural culture on the themes described is also attested by the last competitions of the 1980s: Thessaloniki City Hall, Boeotia Prefecture, American College of Athens,Hôtel des Roses in Rhodes, Acropolis Museum.

Public housing, which since the end of the Second World War has contributed only 2% to the formation of the national housing stock, has experienced a certain increase thanks to the activity of some entities, structured in the form of cooperatives with the partial contribution of the state. Among these, the OEK (Organismòs Ergatikìs Katikias), after some unsatisfactory settlements in the 1950s and 1960s for various reasons (budgets reduced by the high cost of land, lack of relationship with the remaining urban fabric and services), has its intervention strategy by setting adequate urban planning standards and designing building complexes based on the integration of residence, services and infrastructures (Menidi i, prog. 1983; Solar village 3 in Pefki, prog. by A. Tombazis and assoc.).

Among the protagonists of the recent architectural production, the work of the elders should be remembered: N. Valsamakis, aimed at the clarification of the rationalist language, but open to classicist recoveries (hotel Amalia in Nauplia, 1980-83; town hall in Lefkada, project 1987) ; I. Rizos (b.1923), in which geometric clarity is combined with post-modern inserts (hotel Athenaeum, with S. Kukìs, Athens, 1981-83; house in Paleò Psychikò, 1984-87); and also KN Dekavallas (b.1925), I. Liapis (b.1922), N. Desyllas (b.1926), DA Faturos (b.1928), E. Skrumbelos (b.1921), A. Symeon (b. 1926). The generation born in the Thirties, on the whole, seems to stick with updated eclecticism to the contemporary European media: K. Finès (b.1933) and KS Papaioannu (b.1934), S. Kontaratos (b.1933), S. Amurghis (b.1938), N. Kalogeràs (b.1935), S. Karakosta (b.1938), D. Kontarghiris (b.1934), A. Kollaros (b.1929). The researches of some designers are emblematic: I. Vikelas (b. 1931), who combines international style with postmodern acquisitions (Galleria shopping centers in Glyfada, 1980-83, Agorà in Kifissià, 1983-87;Ionian 2000 in Nea Ionìa, 1988); AN Tombazis (b.1939), known for some office buildings and elaborations on the tower typology (Neo Psychikò, 1971-75, and Kifissi’a, 1972-75) and engaged in various expressive strands, with neo-rationalist rigor ( office building in Athens, 1982-86), to the continuity with the past in the project for the Delphi museum (1987-88); K. Kyriakidis (b. 1937), active on a line of geometric simplification (office building in Chalandri, Athens; Ionikì kai Laikì Tràpeza agency in Kifissi’a); Th. Papayannis (b. 1934), close to constructivist themes (Stadium and sports center, Piraeus, 1977-85).

International relevance has assumed the work of D. Antonakakis (b.1933) and S. Antonakakis (b.1935), from the theme of the apartment house (building in Em. Benaki 118, Athens, 1973-75; house in Pinotsi 17, Athens, 1978-81), up to a casual use of forms inspired by history in figurative continuity with the ancient city (Ionikì kai Laikì Tràpeza office in Rhodes, 1984-88) as part of an updated reinterpretation of ” regionalism ” ‘(Komotini theater, project, 1987; house in Vamvakòpulo, 1982-87).

Significant for the architectural climate of the 1980s are T. and D. Biris (b.1942 and 1944), with the apartment building in Pol’ydrosso, Athens (1977-80), based on the aggregation of housing units, and the house in Politìa (1984-85), a complete reflection on housing in happy modern inventiveness; M. Souvatzidis (b. 1946) should be remembered, for a wise re-reading of Pikionis’ lesson combined with postmodern suggestions (house in Paleà Epìdavros, 1981-82; house in Amaliada, 1984-86). A. Christofellis (1946-1991; International carpet center, Athens, 1981-82, with A. Valanu-Christofellis; EOT pavilion at the international tourism exhibition in Milan, 1986) and NK Theodossiu (b.1944; houses in Rafina, 1983, and Politìa, 1987) adhere in fullinstead to postmodern language. Also worthy of mention are A. and V. Stylianidis, A. Kuvelà, A. Kalligàs, NL Chatzimichalis (1941-1991), AI Altsitzoglu and I. Kukis (b.1941), D. Issaias and T. Papaioannu, K. Krokos (1941), D. Diamantòpulos (b.1944), Greece Triantafyllu (b.1951).

Greece Architecture