Following the great Greek tradition of beneficence and support, Dimitris Daskalopoulos donates not a simple building but the establishment of a vision which aims to provide contemporary artistic creativity as the main ingredient of a contemporary education which cultivates curiosity, exploration and creative values. The main challenge of the D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building is that it has to be placed within a campus that consists of a large number of buildings, built in variable periods and represent diverse architectural styles.
This beautiful campus has managed through the decades to maintain a natural balance and peaceful environment that the last thing it needs is to be disturbed with the position of a new building that loudly establishes its presence between Benakio, Davis, Lila, Swimming pool, Library and Church of Archangels buildings. The question made here is which design such an important building should follow in order to satisfy the following factors, be visible from the main campus entrance, establish a common language with the surrounding buildings, be less intrusive with the natural landscape and above all fullfill successfully its dual role as educational center and exhibition space for art subjects.
The natural landscape provided us with the answer; the unique enchanting landscape is comprised of two ingredients: its intertwining footpaths expanding through a diverse flora enriched with cypress, eucalyptus, oak, pine and olive trees, and the variable student activities taking place within, when students run in between classes, breaks, sports, studying and playing.”We pulled over that green rag”, re-establishing the natural topography which was wounded harshly by the artificial submersion of the land at the southwest corner of the site, integrating all educational spaces internally by establishing free interlocking movement that follows existing surrounding paths which all meet at an internal courtyard. We position carefully a stoic white volume which appears to hover gently above the green rag and it’s ready to receive in a fluid and adjustable way the exhibition space, the gallery.
In addition, we reinforced the existing footpaths literally bringing them in, above, under and beside all Arts Building levels. In that way we have created an ensemble of internal, external and in-between spaces capable of receiving both simultaneously and individually parallel activities which are there to demonstrate exploration, dispute, research, tension, ascension inspiration and calmness. Promoting an artistic expression ready to be performed privately or publicly but above all allow nature to be the core of the building ensemble. The transparency of the internal elevations of the white volume which forms the exhibition space allows and promotes interaction with the educational spaces below. Education is in direct dialogue with art both visually and through the movenet within the paths curving over and next to the building, allowing it to evolve.
The D. Daskalopoulos Arts Building forms a unique livable and creative environment, an interactive lab of expression that the ensemble of spaces together with its virtual clone transform it into a beacon of knowledge emitting to all. Against the erroneous view that presents art as an elitist product, the new Arts Building is designed to forge the best out of every student both at individual and collaborative form, their families, their teachers, the artistic community and visitors allowing an inclusive and interdisciplinary access to artistic education
Never thought we would have to defend the fundamental right to education and art amid a war, when we were designing the New Arts Building for Athens College international architectural competition. Numb and skeptical, but fulfilled and proud for our team who won a honorable mention in this highly competitive process amongst 64 entries!
Anna Karagianni, Christos Kyrou, Ina Partheniou, Valina Geropanta, Giannis Petroulakis, Karolos Chanikian, Oikonomou Manolis, Flora Bougiatioti, Alexandros Papandreou, Panagiotis Parthenios, Raissa Andreopoulou, Konstantina Kerasoviti, Giannis Dahis, Kuriaki Forti, Grau Visuals and our architecture students at Πολυτεχνείο Κρήτης / Technical University of Crete Dimitra Niktari, Γεωργία Λύτσικα, Λαΐς Ιωάννα Μαργιωρή for this great achievement!