Building in the shadow of the Acropolis: architecture as a contextual response

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


"The problem of the contemporary language of Greek architecture still remains ‘unsolved’ and any debate about the contemporary ‘Greek styles’ is a debate about the ideology and culture of today."

Christofellis, Alexander, Function and Strategies of Architectural Composition

The primary motivating force that led to the realization of this project, was a continuous need I felt to "reconnect" with the physical and spiritual reality of Greece, for this is the place I shall return to and attempt to understand and taste the next step of my life.

Throughout the past six years of my studies within the realm of architecture, Greece was standing like a shadow away from the "center of the picture"; mostly referred to as a "historic place" or "the land of Acropolis", it was treated as "a country of the past." My perception of Greece is that of a place which is still very much alive and evolving and my desire was to find a way to communicate these intense feelings. This is the reason I chose to work on a project that takes place in the shadow of the rock of the Acropolis, the symbol of both past and future Greece. The difficulties and dangers of using such a site, became apparent during my visit and subsequent analysis of the context of the area. This thesis has become a stepping stone in my understanding of the architecture of Greece, its forms, its materials, its images, its sunlight...As one can understand, such a project was the "excuse" for something bigger than just the completion of a degree. It signified the acceptance of a new responsibility in terms of understanding and acknowledging the physical and social complexities of the specific region of Greece. I urge the reader to see this thesis not as having an end within itself but rather as an initiative towards the refinement of my perception and the formalization of my position on architecture and architectural thought. Its primary intent was to enable me to explore the fundamental issues and concerns derived from the life, attitudes, climate, context, materials and topography within Old Athens, in the specific region known as Plaka. Therefore, the whole process is just part of a personal search which will continue as I return to Greece and try to evaluate the assumptions, thoughts, criticisms and approach that I assumed.