The wonderful play of light on volumes makes architecture.
Le Corbusier, Swiss architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter
Architecture is primarily the Art of using light. In Greece, country of the Sun, art and architecture represent the different conception of the world: here everything happens out in the open, in the theatre, the agora, the market and the café. Throughout time and styles, we witness the perfection of naturalism in godly figures, and the theory of ideal proportions (Polykleitos’ canon); religious and aesthetic spaces (the Greek sanctuary of Delphi), and the Pythagorean influence on balanced proportions; the work of Ictinus and Callicrates in the main temple on the Athenian Acropolis and the Parthenon metopes sculpted by Phidias; the decorated column bases and the gracefulness of the Ionic order, to reach late classical sculpture where decorative detail replaces naturalism.
At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, the artistic style of neo-classicism was established in Greece, inspired by ideals summarized in the words of Winckelmann: “An art form of a noble simplicity and a calm grandeur”. Neo-classicism, due to its ancient Greek affiliation, as a national style most appropriate for important buildings, lasted longer than in other European countries. In this framework, the prolific talent of Ernst Ziller and his discreet eclecticism created a large number of exquisite buildings, both public and private. Moreover, in the beginning of the 30’s, with the emphasis placed on simplicity and geometrical harmony, Greek modernism inspired mainly by Le Corbusier and Bauhaus manifested itself in its purest form.
Inside this universe of changes, a new architectural scene –less regional and more global– brings to the fore a new societal role of Greek architecture: in the realm of Green Architecture, buildings are being structured with the aim to have a minimal impact on the environment. As more people have become concerned about the wise use of the planet's resources, the concept of green architecture has gained in both acceptability and interest.
For all of you who are interested in Architecture exhibitions and events happening in Greece, you are cordially invited to attend and see:
(1) the new Acropolis Museum;
(2) the 6th Biennale of Young Greek Architects, organised by the Hellenic Institute of Architecture, with the aim of supporting the development of contemporary Greek architecture, at the Benaki Museum;
(3) the “Building Sustainable Communities: Danish architects and engineers on global sustainable development” exhibition, an invitation to proposals on architecture’s social responsibility;
(4) the Museum of Marble Crafts in Pirgos on the island of Tinos, and the Rooftile and Brickworks Museum N. & S. Tsalapatas in the city of Volos;
(5) the open-to-all event, supported by the City of Athens and the Hellenic Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Green Design Festival 2010; or
(6) if you are interested in an interactive tour in Ancient Agora to witness its architectural and city-planning differentiations, visit the Hellenic Cosmos, the cultural centre of the Foundation of the Hellenic World.
If you are in search of Old Athens, examples of Art Deco apartment buildings and turn-of-the-century homes are architectural treasures waiting to be discovered: visit the National Hellenic Research Foundation, and travel in time though the history of the city’s buildings.