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DESTROY below the ACROPOLIS - VIDEO

13 November, 2007

DESTROY below the ACROPOLIS - VIDEO

Demolishing the two listed buildings would mutilate the architectural continuum of D. Areopagitou, which helps make this walkway one of the most interesting and beautiful in Europe. It would also vanquish an important piece of our modern urban history. Ironically, this is for the benefit of a museum site, whose mission should be to preserve and transmit memory, not to destroy it.

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SHALL THEY DEMOLISH A WORK OF ART, TO REVEAL A RESTAURANT TERRACE?

DELISTING, WITH AN INTENT TO DEMOLISH, OF A PROTECTED BUILIDING AT 17 DIONYSIOU AREOPAGITOU STR., ATHENS


The building at 17 Dionysiou Areopagitou, below the Acropolis, ranks according to architecture historians among the most significant early 20th century monuments, and is the most beautiful Art Deco specimen in Athens. Its façade is decorated with mosaics, sculptures and grey and pink marble.

It was designed in 1930 by architect Vassilis Kouremenos (1875 – 1957). He was from Epirus, an honours graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, member of the Athens Academy from its inception, Professor at the National Polytechnic, painter, friend of Eleftherios Venizelos and Pablo Picasso. He worked in Athens, Paris, Istanbul and Dublin and received prestigious awards.

It was listed as protected by the ministry of physical planning in 1978, along with another eight on the same street, and as a Work of Art by the culture ministry in 1988. It stands in front of the site were the New Acropolis Museum was recently built. The official guidelines for the designs of the New Acropolis Museum explicitly stated that the buildings at numbers 17 and 19 would remain in place.

The Central Archaeology Council in 2003 approved building the Museum on that site, using Bernard Tschumi’s plan, because the Museum would not be visible from the Areopagitou pedestrian walkway, and would thus not overburden the ancient monuments and the listed buildings. In other words, it argued that the massive structure would be hidden behind the listed buildings!  The same argument was adopted by the Council of State in 2005 to uphold the decision to build there.

And yet! On July 3rd 2007 a joint meeting of KAS (Central Archaeology Council) and KSNM (Central Newer Monuments Council) was convened at the Ministry of Culture, very hastily and without informing those with a legal interest in the matter. After fierce debate and a hung vote which was resolved by the chairman’s double vote, it was recommended that the building at 17 D. Areopagitou be de-listed as a Work of Art, so that it may also be de-listed as protected, together with its neighbour, and be demolished.

Despite the short notice, a number of organizations and individuals protested in advance.

Demolishing the two listed buildings would mutilate the architectural continuum of D. Areopagitou, which helps make this walkway one of the most interesting and beautiful in Europe. It would also vanquish an important piece of our modern urban history. Ironically, this is for the benefit of a museum site, whose mission should be to preserve and transmit memory, not to destroy it.

About the view from the Museum: From the uppermost Parthenon Gallery you can see not only the Parthenon, also the whole rock of the Acropolis. You cannot see the Theatre of Dionysus; but to make this visible one would have to raze not only the listed buildings, but also the tall plane trees in the walkway and the thicket of cypresses in front of the Theatre. Shall these also be sacrificed “in the public interest”?

What the buildings do obstruct is the view of the museum restaurant from the walkway and from the ancient monuments. The huge open-air restaurant will be on a tall concrete terrace (as tall as the adjoining Weiler building) which juts out from the main museum structure towards the Areopagitou walkway – on which, by the way, restaurants are not allowed.

About the back side of the listed buildings, which is visible from the museum: This view can be vastly improved by various means, such as planting, artistic installations, or architectural redesign. For this, the Ministry of Culture must give its consent. If the Ministry were respectful of recent history, it would be exploring imaginative solutions to combine the buildings with the Museum, rather than insisting on a false dilemma.

The barbaric recommendation of KAS – KSNM, if implemented, will disturb the sanctity of the archaeological site, will demolish architectural heirlooms, will destroy the unique aura of Dionysiou Areopagitou, so that tourists can enjoy an uninterrupted vista with their snacks, and promote the commercial aspects of the museum.

More at: http://areopagitou17.blogspot.com/

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