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Athens’ biggest park up for a facelift March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Environment, Nature.
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Athens’s biggest park, Pedion tou Areos, near the city center, is set for a 9-million-euro makeover that will include the addition of 90,000 new plants and trees, the renovation of two theaters and the creation of a skateboard park, according to plans unveiled yesterday.

The park covers 23 hectares and is one of the city’s most significant areas of greenery but has suffered from years of neglect and lack of supervision that have led to parts of it becoming a no-go zone at certain times of the day.

However, Athens-Piraeus Prefect Dina Bei has announced ambitious plans to restore the park to its former glory and make it safer for Athenians. Respected architect Alexandros Tombazis has been brought on board for the project that will see more grass and better lighting throughout the park. How the park will be maintained once it has been refurbished is unclear.

New green project for Nicosia’s riverbed March 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Nicosia, Nature.
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The upgrading of a linear park in Nicosia which includes a lit pedestrian walkway and bicycle lanes along the Pedieos River is expected to begin shortly, with the area set to be transformed into one of outstanding natural beauty.

The first 4.5km of the project was built in Lakatamia as far back as eight years ago. Upgrade plans include two parallel paths, one for pedestrians and one for cyclists over a distance of 18 kilometres.

The project’s architect, Andreas Kyriakides said that the aim is, “to modernise the capital and to give citizens the opportunity to walk in safety and tranquillity.”

The upgrade plans include a further two-kilometre section which needs to be built within Nicosia Municipality borders, specifically from the Agrotis Bridge near the Presidential Palace to the old General Hospital.

According to the architect, “the final goal is to take advantage of the whole passage of the river, which begins at the Tamassos Dam and finishes at Paphos Gate. We would also like to utilise the moat circling the old city so that a truly circular park can be created, which will strengthen the unification of the old town in the future.”

Construction plans are in place with work due to begin shortly. It is hoped everything will be ready by 2009. Tenders are expected to be submitted by the end of March, with the project designed and approved by the Town Planning Department.

It will also be environmentally friendly. “No pollution of the river will be seen during the building works,” the architect assured. Two modern laminated timber footbridges will also be constructed, one in Ayioi Omologites, the other close to the Evangelistria private clinic. Kyriakides said dense growth and private property had hindered progress in Ayioi Omologites. Special ‘green’ buses will also run through the park, helping both pedestrians and cyclists to cover distance.

He stated that the exact cost was not yet known but would be in the region of several million euros. He thanked Nicosia, Strovolos and Lakatamia Municipalities, saying the project would not have been possible without their help.

The walkway will be flanked by eucalyptus trees, with tropical fish, frogs, and turtles introduced into the river. Rare birds will also be set free.

“We want to take advantage of the river’s location and beauty. The environment is very clean and peaceful there and is will be a lovely in which to go for a walk.”

Hania in Crete making strides into the new century March 4, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Architecture Greece, Arts Museums.
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The new Archaeological Museum in the Halepa quarter is a stunning modern building designed by architect Theofanis Bobotis

04-03-08_hania_museum.jpg  Construction work on the new Archaeological Museum of Hania in Crete will start this year. Designed by architect Theofanis Bobotis, the new building is a dynamic expression of the contemporary era, with discreet references to the ancient past.

Housed for the past 46 years in a Franciscan monastery on Halidon Street in Hania, the vast archaeological collection there represents part of Cretan history. Eventually the works will be transferred to the new Archaeological Museum of Hania, to be built in the historic Halepa quarter, overlooking the sea and not far from the old port.

04-03-08_hania_museum_new.jpg  A modern building in tune with the times, the new museum will have a discreet but distinctive exterior. The design is by Theofanis Bobotis, who also designed the recently built Patras Museum. Bobotis and his team are now competing to build the Polykentriko Museum in Vergina.

Museums are not the only constructions he has worked on in recent years. His Observatory building on Solonos Street, with its wood and glass facade, is a head turner, and won the FX International Interior Design award for a retail space in 2007. Bobotis is also working on the extension to the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, a complex 10,000-square-meter project, the new Panionios soccer ground, a freight station in northern Italy and has submitted a study for the Greek railway management company ERGOSE. His team has created a bookbinding factory in Italy and mixed-use tower buildings in Dubai and has been invited by the government of South Korea to draw up a master plan for a city. The team’s work is familiar to Athenians from the KAT and Tavros stations on the electric railway line.

04-03-08_hania_bobotis.jpg  The Bobotis team won the competition to build the Hania Museum three years ago. Now, as the study is in its final stages, the ephorate has decided that more space is needed in order to display the large number of exhibits. The architects made use of vertical space to create a 14-square-meter loft, which the Central Archaeological Council approved at its last meeting.

“When designing museums, you have to keep an eye on the future, since new finds may come to light and you may have to change the ways things are displayed. With that in mind, the museum was designed to allow for added space or different uses of space,” says the architect.

Now the architects are waiting for the study phase to end so that the competition for the construction work can be announced. Construction could start in 2008 and be finished within two years. The museum is to cover 6,500 square meters, which includes 1,800 square meters for exhibition halls, 140 square meters for the gallery and a 140-seat amphitheater.

“We were asked to design the museum according to a specific plan determined by the Culture Ministry, which stipulated the purposes of the spaces we had to incorporate,” said Bobotis.

What matters most, with both the Hania museum and the Patras museum, is that the initial goal has been achieved: making museums that are accessible to the public.

The building, explained the architect, comprises “two discrete linear monolithic masses rising from the earth, a symbolic reference to vestiges of civilization beneath the ground and also a bioclimatic choice. One section has two wings and is set on a corner; the other has one wing, and is positioned like a barrier in front of the opening framed by the other, so as to create an atrium. Around the atrium will be the exhibition space and the entrance, which ensures the continuity of the museum’s corridors.”

“The austere geometry of the buildings will be softened by the earthy look of the ceramic material used in the interior,” explained Bobotis. The atrium, also a reference to traditional Greek buildings, will allow natural light into the museum.

The administrative offices, storerooms and workshops will go in the space between the two sections, along with a cafe and sales point which will operate independently.

Deal signed for Panathinaikos’ new stadium February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Panathinaikos and City of Athens reach agreement on sports complex in Votanikos

A deal was signed yesterday between Panathinaikos and the Athens City Council that is expected to lead to the construction very shortly of a new sports complex in central Athens that will house the historic sports club’s soccer, basketball and volleyball stadiums.

In comments following the signing ceremony with Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, owner of Panathinaikos soccer club, one of the country’s two biggest, said Panathinaikos would soon have “the best stadium in Greece, and one of the best in Europe.”

The agreement for the complex, to be located in the Votanikos district, approximately 1 kilometer from Omonia Square in downtown Athens, had been in the pipeline for the past couple of years. Prior to the delays, Panathinaikos was hoping to celebrate its centennial year, this year, at its new home. The project, currently budgeted at around 90 million euros, is expected to take 19 months to complete once bulldozers begin work, which could be next month.

The overall plan involves converting the Athens club’s traditional base, the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in the densely populated Ambelokipi district, where the Panathinaikos soccer team is currently based, into a much-needed park.

Kaklamanis yesterday reiterated an earlier pledge to convert the old stadium into a park with some space set aside for a club museum. “For Athens, this means that a vast green lung will be created within the city’s urban fabric, in the Ambelokipi area,” he said.

The City of Athens will partly fund Panathinaikos’s new sports complex and, in return, will take possession of the plot of land on which the old stadium stands.

The outdated Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium no longer meets international soccer requirements, as set by UEFA, the sport’s governing body in Europe. Not long ago, UEFA removed the Athens stadium from its list of venues eligible to host games for the Champions League, Europe’s premier club-level competition.

Vardinoyiannis took the opportunity yesterday to lash out at club detractors and parties interested in buying into the soccer club, who have suggested that he could be performing better as top administrator. “Many people are upset that Panathinaikos is top of the league. It is a common phenomenon for artificial crises to be created and that’s what is happening now,” he said. “Panathinaikos is top, whether some people like it or not.”

Renzo Piano to design new National Greek Opera February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Renzo Piano has been chosen as the architect for a new National Opera house and cultural park in Athens, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Niarchos Foundation, financing the project, said on Thursday that Mr. Piano, co-designer of the Pompidou Center in Paris and designer of The New York Times building, will also create a cultural complex, including a new National Library, surrounding the opera house on the site of a former racetrack that was leveled and used as a bus depot for the 2004 Athens Olympics. The estimated cost of the project is $441 million.

UPDATE >>> Renzo Piano Chosen to Design New Greek Opera, Library Complex

Renzo Piano, the architect who designed the New York Times Building, was chosen to build a cultural center in Athens, Greece that will house the country’s new National Opera house and new National Library.

Piano will develop a 42-acre (17 hectare) property on the coast near the center of Athens, the capital, according to a statement from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which commissioned the project. The site will house the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center with new opera and library facilities within an educational and cultural park.

The foundation has budgeted 300 million euros ($442 million) for the center and will hand over the project to the Greek state on completion.

Piano, 70, a native of Genoa, Italy, won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998 and has designed the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, and the Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka, Japan. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation funds activities in education, social welfare, health and medicine and arts and culture and has disbursed more than $318 million since its inception in 1996.

The foundation was created by Stavros Niarchos, one of the most successful Greek shipowners. Niarchos, who died in 1996, bought his first six freighters during the 1930s to import wheat from Argentina and the Soviet Union. He leased vessels to the Allied Forces during World War II and used the insurance funds after they were destroyed to buy oil tankers. At its peak, his company operated more than 80 tankers.

An unusual architectural presentation February 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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The grandson of Alexandros Tombazis recently asked his mother, “Was Grandpa ever young?” That was how Tombazis, for many the most acclaimed modern Greek architect, opened his lecture at the Athens Concert Hall earlier his week.

It may seem like an unusual start to a lecture but Tombazis wanted to give an unusual lecture, divided into two parts. In the first, he addressed the “new generation” of architects, many of whom were present. In the second part, he gave a detailed presentation of the Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Fatima, Portugal, which is considered of great importance and was inaugurated last October in the presence of 200,000 people. Tombazis conveyed the philosophy behind his career, which spans half a century, in an original way. A pioneer of bioclimatic architecture, he talked a lot about climate change and architects’ responsibilities as well as the era of narcissism and concluded that “there is no architecture without restrictions.”

08-02-08_church_in_fatima.jpg  In the part of the presentation on the church, Tombazis pointed out the difficulties brought about by the square in front of the church, which is eerily quiet during the day but abuzz when half a million worshippers show up.

Urban planning for children at the Athens Megaron February 5, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Exhibitions, Architecture Greece.
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An interactive project by artist Miquel Navarro > ‘Under the Moon II,’ in which youngsters are encouraged to design a city, aims to familiarize children with the complexity of urban life. Miquel Navarro’s installation is currently being showcased at the Athens Concert Hall. The exhibitions will run to March 23.

“What don’t you like about Athens?” Little hands rise into the air. A class of junior high school pupils sit cross-legged along with two trained professionals discussing architecture and city planning in their own youthful manner.

In the foyer of Athens Concert Hall, currently hosting Miquel Navarro’s “Under the Moon II”, the room quickly fills up with children’s voices. A little boy stands up – boisterously: “Traffic exhaust,” he exclaims. The rest of the class follows, expressing modern-day truths in from an endless list. “Extremely ugly blocks of flats,” “Narrow sidewalks,” “No space for cycling,” “Not enough gardens.”

Right next to the restless group, a 50-square-meter surface holding 500 metal objects (cubes, cylinders and pyramids of various sizes) awaits the children’s attention. Following interactive presentations of works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi, the Megaron Plus is again collaborating with the Pompidou Center in Paris, showcasing a traveling exhibition by Navarro. Urged by the French museum, the Spanish artist developed a toy sculpture in 1994, based on a previous work of his, “Under the Moon”, a ceramic view of the city of Valencia.

The installation’s aim is to familiarize children with the complexity of urban life. Navarro’s artwork-exhibition-game is a work in progress. It is the intervention by the children themselves that defines it and its temporary state, highlighting the countless shapes it may acquire, depending on the age, background, curiosity and interests of those who handle it.

Divided into groups, the children take over the urban planning of Navarro’s dream city. Naturally, swimming pools, playgrounds and amusement parks become the neighborhood’s most popular elements. At the same time, trees, parks and rivers acquire an equally popular status in this imaginary city. According to Vincent Poussou, head of the Pompidou Center’s educational programs, the installation is an example of a contemporary work of art in search of the public’s active participation. Besides bringing children closer to the notion of shape, structure and perspective, Navarro’s work places them at the center of a creative, artistic process.

“The best way to sensitize children to art is not to teach them what good art is but to allow them to take part in its creation,” said Poussou at a recent press conference at the Athens Concert Hall.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333. “Under the Moon II,” runs to March 23. Admission is free of charge. School groups and individual visits can be arranged by telephone at 210 7282733.

Related Links > www.megaron.gr