Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world that have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years, has many reasons to be proud: a fascinating history, famous ancient monuments, a vibrant life, countless opportunities for entertainment and, most of all, am exceptionally rich cultural tradition. It is this tradition that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center now aspires to serve. The SNFCC is a very special multifunctional complex of uniquely designed buildings and open spaces suitable for all sorts of educational and artistic activities and events that is a real jewel for the Greek capital.
The highly functional and welcoming environment of a new state-of-the-art building will house the National Library of Greece, which is to modernize and expand its scope so as to cater to the needs of a very broad public of all age groups and educational levels, from academic researchers to adolescents and children, and will include a lending library, a research unit and exhibition space, in an area of nearly 22,000 m2.
The Greek National Opera will be another pole of attraction in SNFCC not only for music lovers but also for all those who are fascinated by pioneering architectural creations. The new opera house, a 28,000 m2 versatile space with perfect acoustics, able to make good use of new technologies and suitable for various kinds of performances and events, also includes a children’s stage, a smaller alternative stage, and a dance school.
This impressive structure is situated in a picturesque green landscape with verdant gardens, alleys, paths, water fountains and playgrounds that offers precious breaths of life and open spaces suitable both for recreation and for artistic expression and creation so much-needed in the densely populated metropolis. In the Mediterranean Garden visitors can enjoy a feast of colours and fragrances and discover plants and flowers of the Greek flora. Winding paths starting from the Mediterranean Garden lead to a gently inclined hill beneath which is the building of the National Library and the Opera House. On the summit of the park stands the Reading Room, a glass-walled structure with unobstructed views ideal for reading, daydreaming or meditation. A tree-lined Esplanade runs parallel to it, along a wide canal connected with the sea. Here visitors may enjoy strolling, jogging or cycling. Innovations are not limited to the construction and aesthetics of SNFCC: the energy needs of the building are covered by a 100m x 100m photovoltaic canopy supported by metal pillars, the ingenious mechanical design of which has already earned SNFCC the Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the first such distinction for a project of this scale not only in Greece but also in Europe.
The decision of Stavros Niarchos Foundation to cooperate with the architectural bureau Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which was announced in 2008 after a closed architectural competition, was a milestone in the history of the Cultural Center’s construction. The world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano has been one of the top architects on a global scale for the last 40 years. He has made his mark with pioneering works all over the world, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the International Terminal at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the Beyeler Foundation Museum in Basel, Switzerland, the redevelopment of Potsdamer Square in Berlin, the new offices of the “New York Times” and the “green” building of the California Academy of Sciences in the United States etc. The multi-award winning architect has a unique ability to make the most of the particular features of every location, showing utmost respect for the “genius loci”, namely the spirit of each place; using his favourite materials (glass, wood, metal), in combination with natural light and the water element, wherever this is possible, he harmoniously incorporates his creations to the existing urban grid, always in accordance with the principles of sustainability, which is a top priority for him.
For this project Renzo Piano, has been working with Deborah Nevins, Landscape designer and Elli Pangalou, Landscape architect. The entire project has been executed according to the highest technical and environmental specifications, while strict processes and quality controls have been applied both to the selection of the materials and to the methods of using and incorporating them into the final overall result.
PROLAT has played its own part in this significant large-scale project. Renzo Piano has honoured us with his trust, as our company was selected to cover all floors and pathways in the gardens and open spaces. So, 12.35 of the approximately 50 acres of the SNFCC have been covered with stabilized ceramic floor, PROLAT Floor.
Proud of our contribution to this landmark project and unwaveringly loyal to our commitment to offer quality materials combining strength, durability and aesthetic excellence, we endorse the philosophy of the great architect that is summed up in what he said in his latest interview: “Beauty can save the world.”
LET’S GO FOR A WALK
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