December 30, 2008

Opposition to demolition of building near New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 1:47 pm in Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

I am not entirely clear why this is a news item again – as nothing seems to have changejd significantly in the case since the decision by Greece’s Central Archaeological Council earlier this year. Similarly, the protests about the issue are nothing new.

The Times

December 29, 2008
Opposition grows to Athens Art Deco demolition
Marcus Binney, Architecture Correspondent

Plans to demolish a handsome Art Deco house that will block the view from the café of the new Acropolis Museum are prompting opposition from around the world. The front of the large four-storey mansion is faced in finely veined panels of pink marble with Deco sculpture and colourful mosaic panels. It was designed in 1930 by Vasilios Kouremenos, a leading member of the Athens Academy who worked in Paris, Istanbul and Dublin. The house was initially to be preserved but has now been delisted by the Ministry of Culture.

The house, Areopagitou 17, stands at the start of the attractive shaded walk up to the Acropolis and is one of the finest buildings in one of the few quarters of traditional houses in Athens that escaped destruction in the 1960s and 1970s. Other stylish houses on the walk include the Spanish Embassy. Numerous visitors to the Acropolis are signing the petition to preserve it, which is now attracting worldwide support on the web.

“The barbaric decision of the ministry will demolish heirlooms . . . destroy the unique aura of the . . . street so that visitors can enjoy an uninterrupted vista with their snacks,” says the petition. Or, as one lady in a smart local shop put it: “The authorities only see Ancient Athens and modern Athens, nothing in between.”

The back of the house, which, faces towards the new museum is certainly no beauty but its blemishes could easily be concealed by ivy or creeper. A full uninterrupted view of the top of the Acropolis is anyway available from the museum’s upper gallery built to display the frieze of the Parthenon. Bernard Tschumi, the architect of the new museum, says firmly: “I am not entering this controversy. It is a matter for Athenians to decide.”

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