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Vernacular architecture of Greece May 27, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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GangalisResidenceSiatista.jpg  The Gangalis residence in Siatista, painted by Nikos Engonopoulos in the late 1930s.

In the 1930s, three young architects led by Dimitris Pikionis were surprised and impressed as they went about documenting the vernacular architecture of Western Macedonia.

It was a project organized by the Greek Folk Art Association, active since 1930 in an effort to create a counterweight to the influence of international modernism.

Many designs, documents and paintings from various Greek locations have survived from that endeavor (which was derailed by the war).

Two new publications just out from the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece, which is housed in the Old Parliament, have highlighted that heroic project.

They are a reprint of “Kastoria” (first published in 1948), and two compendious, folio-type editions from the collection on Kozani and Siatista, edited by Filippos Mazaraki-Ainian with significant input from the innovative Alexandra Paschalidou-Moreti, one of the three young architects on the original project.

The others were Dimitris Moretis, who in 1937 succeeded in getting many mansions listed for preservation, and Giorgos Yianoulellis. The latter and his wife, architect Marika Zagorisiou, documented houses in Lesvos during the occupation.

Their enthusiasm for popular architecture clearly shines through in these new books.

Pikionis’s layouts for books that were not published at the time are now in the Benaki Museum’s Archives of Modern Greek Architecture. The Historical and Ethnological Society’s publications are more up to date but still inspired by the ideas of Pikionis and his team.

The museum plans to publish additional, previously unpublished material. Paintings of old houses in Athens by Engonopoulos and Tsarouchis may be out by the end of this year. They will be followed by another folio edition on the houses of Veria and other locales (including Pindos, Yiannitsa and Florina).

This is an admirable effort by the society to showcase part of its collection to a wider public.

The drawings which make up the bulk of “Kastoria” and “Kozani/Siatista” were among many others that were found in 1969 at the Olympia Hotel on Athinas Street by Ioannis Mazaraki-Inian.

The material was salvaged and submitted to the society. Gradually, with the help of many specialists, it was classified and identified. Recently it has been enriched by donations from Moreti and Paschalidou-Moreti.

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