Athens.- Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis praised a project initiated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to build a new National Opera and National Library on the site of the old horse-race track in Faliro, the architectural plans for which were unveiled to the public for the first time on Saturday in an event at the Zappion Building.
“It is a day of anticipation and pride in a monumental project,” Karamanlis said in remarks at the event and described Stavros Niarchos as a “great national benefactor,” whose foundation was creating a “small planet – oasis for the areas of research, technology, culture and education, a reference point for young and old”.
Mr. Karamanlis stated his support to the materialization of both the planning and the opening of the park of the project which will be a landmark and a comparison test fir equivalent projects.
Speaking on behalf of Stavros Niarchos foundation, Andreas Drakopoulos said: “We are honored by the opportunity given to us to honor Greece. Today is in fact a day of anticipation; a day of pride for a big and monumental project. And this event is an important step in the progress for the materialization of one of the most ambitious projects of Culture in the new era”.
All installations will be constructed in accordance with the most advanced environmental and technological specifications, with buildings and installations that are self-sufficient in terms of energy and produce minimal carbon emissions, using a series of arrays of interlinked photovoltaic cells to cover the energy needs of the complex, which will be powered exclusively by solar and wind power.
The world-renowned architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop on Saturday unveiled its concept design for the new cultural complex that will be built and donated to the Greek state by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNf) in Faliro, that include a new National Library and National Opera.
The 450-million-euro project will be constructed on a 16-hectare site once occupied by the horse-racing tracks and will also feature a ‘agora’ inspired by the meeting place of ancient Greek cities and the Stavros Niarchos Park. It is due to be delivered for use in 2015.
A member of the team that designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the architect for a number of opera houses, Renzo Piano presented a draught plan that was dominated by a raised inclined roof covering an entire hectare, which is destined to house the arrays of photovoltaic cells that will meet the energy requirements of the complex.
Beneath these are the huge reading room of the National Library, which will be designed so that it can also function as a meeting place and will be flanked by convention and conference facilities. The material in the library itself will be enriched by papers from the greatest educational institutes in the world, such as Yale or Harvard.
The National Opera will be equipped with indoor theatres but also areas for open air concerts and other events that will take place in the ‘Agora’.
The architectural team has also given careful thought to the trees and plants that will planted in the Stavros Niarchos Park, which will be roughly the same size as the National Park in the centre of Athens and will seek to emphasise the Greek character of the landscape.
One of the highlights of the complex will be the canal that will run from the heart of the complex to the sea, filled with filtered sea water, which the architects envision as an ideal and safe environment for children to play.
The whole construction will be dominated by stone as a building material, one that is typically Greek and long-lasting over the ages.