Athens invests in Culture

Renzo has designed the most important Cultural building of the Greek world, one that gives coverage to the Opera, reading and nature.

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“It is a tragedy – snapped the old lady to the journalist – a modern Greek tragedy”, was not the only Athenian thinking this, in the city, did not speak of something else, until they had forgotten (for a moment) of the chaotic situation of the country, with Tsipras stoically enduring the general strikes against the cuts that the Government applies. The old woman looked again to the chamber, to say very severely: “I don’t know what they thought parents by calling them Pyramus and Thisbe, foolish!”

As in the tragic story, Pyramus and Thisbe were neighbors, living in the fifth and the second floor of an apartment building in Athens. Their friendship began very early and, when their parents discovered it, they went into a disproportionate panic (were very superstitious) and forbade them to that they were friends. This, far from separating them, joined them even more so, connoisseurs of the mythological history of their namesakes, they enjoyed talking through a wall, a digital wall: that offered the social network of Facebook.

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Their love grew with the time, they shared an exaggerated passion by the architecture and the engineering, and spoke much of the new construction carried out by the architect Renzo Piano in their hometown, the Cultural Center of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a work that is destined to be the new reference of the culture in Greece… and Europe, perhaps, the young lovers sighed, to return the Hellenic world to the cultural position which it deserves in the continent.

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”Pyramus always was thinking on her, he was so handsome…”, sighed one of the friends of the boy, with tears in her eyes, the journalist had to lend a handkerchief. Between sobs, she explained that on the rare occasions in which he not was with Thisbe, he talked of the new building of the district of Kallithea, built facing the sea, where before was located the old Hippodrome of Athens. “Do not know if it knows, but will be the headquarters of the Library National of Greece and of the Opera National Greek”, clarified with voice broken.

Betaplan, the architectural firm that has worked with Renzo, tells us that the complex occupies an esplanade of 240,000 square meters, with a huge park in almost all its plot (190,000 square meters) and a rectangular pond of 400 meters long. Us says also that the Library National has a surface of 32,000 meters square and the Opera National 42,000, where circumscribe the 1,400 seats of the Auditorium main, 450 of the secondary, a room of lectures and a school of dance.

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Aesthetically it’s an artificial hill that hides part of the building under a vegetation cover, and, opposite this, another building protected by a wafer-thin roof (of several centimeters thick) covered entirely by solar panels capable of generating 2.5 megawatts of energy, that serves as shelter of the building that rises and provide great views of the Greek sea.

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This canopy of energy (as defined by the construction company, Impregilo) covers 10,000 square meters with two slabs of ferrocement (structure formed by metal wire mesh embedded in mortar made from cement, sand and water). 30 diameter 30 cm steel columns, are in charge of holding the canopy that weighs 3,500 tons (and its 5.560 solar panels), in addition, the connection between the pillars and the ceiling system, allows the absorption of movements, so that does not collapse the structure under the effects of thermal variations, the action of the wind, or the seismic activities.

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“The teens need to be more guarded”, said the owner of the kiosk that the lovers visited occasionally, journalist realized that the man did not seem very concerned about the fate of his clients (not everyone is equal). There, Pyramus and Thisbe had learned that the Center promoted by the Foundation Stavros (donating a sum of 596 million euros for this purpose), it received the award from 2016 to the best project in category culture, awarded by the prestigious American magazine ENR (Engineering News Record), all an honor.

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Two companies have been responsible for the landscaping of the large park, H Pangalou partners, and Deborah Nevins partners that have invested much time and talent looking for plants throughout Europe (1,500 trees and 200,000 shrubs to be exact), so, have achieved one of the world’s largest gardens with native species of the Mediterranean. Another prestigious (and well known) company, Arup, has participated in the development of the engineering and the acoustic properties of the complex.

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The important motivations of the Center are two, one, to be the most multifunctional cultural area of Greece, they have different areas of action, including an Agora between the Library and the Opera where you may perform varied activities. The second is the energy efficiency, there is no doubt that it will attain certification LEED Platinum, thus rewarding the effort to ensure that the building get to be “almost” independent energy.

The journalist, microphone in hand, looked into the camera and with a serious face, ruled: “by the intransigence of its environment the guys escaped of their reality, and, as the lovers of the Greek classic, they will gathered in a place: the work of Piano. The professional of the media imagined then, to the lovers embraced, touring every corner of the building, admiring the 32 meters from the top, which is reached by a slope soft and adaptable.

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She described (as if she had been there) as they made plans for the future while they palpated rigid concrete walls, contributing to energy efficiency and to guarantee the durability of the enclosure. She saw them supporting their faces on the crystals, aware of the importance in our lives (do you imagine a construction without Crystal? no?). They walked to the large park and they came to the canopy of energy, from there, overlooking the sea, decided to be stowaways in one of the Greek ships.

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At the end of the story, the parents, crippled by the pain, released a message: “my children, if you can see this, we love them to and we will accept your love”, a message late because, in the next scene, a sailor would not let place to hope: “the guy jumped overboard at the thought that she had fallen, and she threw herself behind him, we couldn’t do anything”. Say that another sailor reversed the order of the dives and a third said seeing them jump into the water together. “The truth of this new Greek tragedy, with Pyramus and Thisbe as protagonists, only knows it the tight and narrow Mediterranean, concluded the journalist.

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