Scholars' Association News
Issue 24
November 2012


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Athens in Venice supported by the Onassis Foundation

Under the title "Made in Athens" and supported by the Onassis Foundation, Greece is taking part in the 13th Architecture Biennale in Venice. The event, one of the largest in the world, opened on August 29 and will run until November 25, 2012. Important names on the global architectural scene and creative teams exchange ideas on the concept of "Common Ground", designated this year as the theme of the event by Biennale director, British architect David Chipperfield.

The exhibition displayed at the Greek Pavilion focuses on Athens’ particular dynamics during the economic crisis. The two curators, Panos Dragonas and Anna Skiada, aim to convey to foreign visitors the positive aspect of Athens, namely its talented cadre of young architects, and to compose the "mosaic" of the Greek capital through the private sector and the public space. Projects from eight architectural firms and creative teams are on display.

The entrance to the Greek Pavilion in Giardini Street welcomes the international public with a huge acrylic mural by street artist b. The graffiti, which goes by the same name as the exhibition Made in Athens, attempts to recount to the international audience a purely Athenian story, including all the contrasts and originalities found in the Greek capital.

The newspaper The Guardian makes special reference to the Greek pavilion in its article on the Architecture Biennale. Journalist Steve Rose writes “In Greece’s pavilion there is similar nostalgia for the “Polykatoikia”, the social housing that evolved in Athens in 1950s. Set into the sides and tops of the displays are tiny models of individual apartments, with an accompanying photograph and basic information. The most inexplicably moving thing I saw in Venice was one such slide, of the bedroom of an Albanian immigrant couple and their two-year-old daughter: a double bed and a cot crammed into a tiny, bare room.”

In this fascinating pavilion, visual media complement architectural ideas, such as the two imaginary stories by Andreas Angelidakis, which recount the economic crisis through the stories of two buildings: the Mont Parnes Casino and the model apartment block ‘Chara’. Filmmaker Angelos Frantzis comments in movie form on apartment block tenants in Athens during the crisis using 14 fixed frames of various sizes, which relate the tenants’ activities. The Point Supreme Architects team proposes that Panepistimiou Street be converted into a swimming-pool. decaArchitecture presents the human geography of Athens through true examples of extreme poverty and wealth. Stephen Buerger and Dimitra Katsota design a new children’s playground, Aristides Antonas’ office redesigns Theatro Square, whilst Giannis Aesopos sets out his ideas for redeveloping the area of Elaionas. Also taking part are the architects AREA Architecture Research Athens (Styliani Daouti, Giorgos Mitroulias, Michalis Raftopoulos) and draftworks* (Christiana Ioannou, Christos Papastergiou), Draftworks, the ΚΜ Properties plan to redevelop the areas of Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio over the last five years entitled "Kerameikos – Metaxourgeio: Common Ground", photographer Giorgis Gerolymbos and photojournalist Dimitris Michalakis.

The exhibition presents numerous proposals for redesigning apartment blocks and for interventions in public spaces and urban buildings. Visitors can also see works by the following architects: D. & S. Antonakakis, Th. Argyropoulos & K. Dekavallas, N. Valsamakis, I. Vikelas, Ch. Gikas & Ε. Filtsou, P. Dragonas & V. Christopoulou, T. Ch. Zeneto, K. Kroko, N. Ktena, Ch. Loukopoulou / I. Bertaki / K. Panigyri, M. Nikoloutsou & M. Filippidi, I. Skroumbelo, D. Sotoviki / A. Sotoviki / Κ. Batziou, D. Fatouro, Atelier Bow Wow, BIG, Boyd Cody Architects, Divercity (Ν. Travasaro, D. Karabelia, D. Travasaro, Ch. Achtypi, Ch. Dimitrouka), doxiadis+ (Th. Doxiadis, Η. Vonderthann), FORA (Joao Fagulha, Raquel Oliveira and Joao Ruivo), Solid Objectives - Idenburg Liu (Florian Idenburg, Ioannis Kandyliaris, Ilias Papageorgiou), ISV Architects (Μ. Ioannou, T. Sotiropoulos, Α. van Gilder), Klab Architecture, Constantinos Lambrinopoulos, ksestudio (S. Krimizi, K. Kyriakou), tenςe architecture network (Τ. Andrianopoulos, Κ. Mavros, Th. Babanelos).

Also on display are citizen initiatives to regain public space, such as Navarino Park and the team local/athens, and works by architects-photographers Charalambos Louizidis & Aikaterini Niki Glinou. Lastly, Panos Dragonas, Anna Skiada, Barbara Christopoulou, Maria Bourdi and Maria Chasioti are in charge of exhibition planning. The prize for the best pavilion at the Architecture Biennale was this year awarded to Japan. The curator of the Japanese pavilion, pioneering architect Toyo Ito, and his team presented alternative means of housing for those inhabitants struck by the 2011 disastrous earthquake and tsunami. Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza was awarded the Leone d’Oro for his overall work and achievement in architecture: a new global architectural language. Visitors were particularly impressed by the Russian pavilion, which is completely covered with gigantic QR Codes. Through the use of tablets, visitors can see the designs for Skolkovo, the Russian city under development which is dedicated to technology and sciences.

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