Friday, November 23, 2012

OpenHouse Thessaloniki - 24th & 25th of November 2012

In 2012 Thessaloniki joined the Open House family and started organizing an event that will celebrate the city’s architecture and design. Open House is a simple but powerful concept: showcasing outstanding architecture for all to experience, completely for free. Open House initiatives invite everyone to explore and understand the value of a well-designed built environment. The Open House event started in London in 1992, gaining in the past 20 years a lot of appreciation and support. Today 21 cities are members of the Open House Worldwide family and host annually this event, including New York, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Helsinki, Melbourne, Barcelona, Chicago, Rome, Lisbon etc. The first Open House event in Greece is taking place on 24th and 25th of November in Thessaloniki. Selected architectural sites will be open to the public during this weekend. The event is organised by the non-governmental and non-profit organisation Open House Greece, founded in 2012. Open House Thessaloniki aspires to expose the architectural treasures of this dynamic city, and make architecture accessible to all. Its aim is to contribute to the deeper understanding of urban design and public space, and enable all citizens and visitors to explore and understand the value of a well-designed built environment.

Open House Thessaloniki from senselens on Vimeo.

Visits to buildings will take place ​​in the following way: 1. Select from the program which buildings you are interested to visit 2. Check the opening hours 3. Visit the building 4. Entrance to the building is done regularly when group of people with specific number is formed 5. No pre-booking is needed 6. Admission is free to all

The visitors who will walk around the center of the city on 24 & 25 of November will meet the colored boxes that WHYNOT designed as a parallel project for Open House Thessaloniki, in order to mark the buildings that take part in Open House Thessaloniki event. Inside the first 12 boxes you will find a map with information about the buildings (address and visiting hours) and about the way to reach the next spot. A surprise is waiting for you inside the 13th box!

Above is the map of Thessaloniki showing the buildings included in the program.

Check out the changes that have been made on the visiting hours of the original program: Latomou Monastery (Osios David) New visiting hours for Saturday: 10.00-12.00 Saint Sophia Church New visiting hours for Saturday: 10.00-12.30 National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation Tours at 10.00, 11.30 and 13.00 New Waterfront of Thessaloniki New visiting hours for Saturday and Sunday: 10.00-19.00 B' Concert Hall New visiting hours for Saturday: 17.00-20.00 Residence building in Argonafton New visiting hours for Sunday: 11.00-13.00 "Aliki Perroti: student residence New visiting hours for Saturday: 10.00-17.00

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Information Centre for Lake Pamvotis, Nissi, Ioannina

The Information Centre for Lake Pamvotis opened last May in the Nissi village on the sole island of the lake, near Ioannina in Greece. It is housed in a traditional old building that was renovated for the purpose. The Centre is providing visitors with information about the lake and the surrounding area. Its design, the museological and museographic planning is by Tetragon Ltd. (the company I work for). Official contractors for this project are Tetragon Ltd, OIKOM Environmental Studies and OIKOS Nature Management, with the invaluable cooperation of the Management Authority of Lake Pamvotis.

When going through the main entrance, one can see the reception area while on the right is the room dedicated to traditional fishing. The permanent exhibition about the lake is located on the first floor. Going up the stairs and exactly opposite them is a segment that has extensive information about lake Pamvotis - the environment, the area in which it lies, its long geological history. On the left you can see a large model of the lake that attracts the attention of visitors. Near it, and following from the previous section, the visitor can discover, through text and a smaller model, information about how the system of the lake operates: the origin of the water, how it was created and the movement of water into the lake.

On the far left wall are three bright diagrams showing the shape of the lake in its long life. The large and impressive model of the lake reflects its current form. Pressing the buttons light up lights for points of interest. Right next to the window is a table shaped like a water-lilly leave with a pair of headphones. Wearing them, the visitor can hear various myths and old stories about the lake and the surrounding area (the voice doing the English narrative is by yours truly). And right after this is the section dedicated to the lake ecosystems. Here the influence of water on vegetation in the area is examined. The section continues to the other side of the stairs, where plexiglass lecterns emerge from brightly lit blue floor. Each of these provides information about the main lake plants, reeds and water lilies, but also how they form peatlands. Above the desks and at eye level is a large screen, which displays a slideshow about Pamvotis. It is extremely interesting and does not last long (I made this!). 

To the left of the screen and into the blue lit floor that resembles the water of the lake, visitors can see the types of fish that live in it. Carp, Eels, butterfly fish, cut in natural size, are "swimming" in the blue-green "water," while on the back plate you can read more about them. On the floor, you can see the grypos fishing tool and hung from the ceiling is another one named pezovolos: two traditional ways of fishing here. At the back of the room, one can observe different species of birds and animals that live in the lake and around it. The impressive composition suspended from the roof, makes it easy to identify the characteristics of the local fauna species: crayfish, ducks, egrets, frogs etc.

At the end of the hall there is a large section informing the visitor about the human impact on the lake and the ecosystem. Also you can see how locals live from the Ioannina lake - fishermen, craftsmen, merchants and all people are affected directly or indirectly from it, while in turn they affect it too. Towards the end of the exhibition, the visitor can read the corresponding panels about how the lake has been a refuge since prehistoric times for humans and animals, something that continues to the present day. The lake was also a natural crossroads for shepherds, armies, merchants.

In the last section you read that the future of the lake is in our hands and how its management affects the surrounding area. Just before the staircase is a beautiful structure with a screen where you can see suggested routes for small excursions, to get a more complete picture of the lake and its surrounding area. If you happen to visit Ioannina, do not miss it!

Information Centre for Lake Pamvotis in Greece panorama by Kostas Vassis

Photos by Dinos Michail, courtesy of Tetragon Ltd except the last one by Alexios Pissaridis.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Museo Ferrari in Modena, Italy by Future Systems/Shiro Studio

Mention Ferrari to anyone and they get dreamy eyed, mention their favourite model immediately and usually comment on the latest travails of their Formula One team. Even though it is a rarefied brand with cars made in very limited numbers and for a very specific clientele, everyone in the world knows who they are, what they do and feels it is a special kind of car. Enzo Ferrari surely did not even think that the firm he started way back in 1929 in Modena, Italy, would become such a prominent global brand.

Such a storied and legendary car (and fantasy) maker could not stay long without a museum. A place where the visitor could embrace the brand’s story and ethos, admire the exquisite cars that make up it’s glorious history and maybe get a piece of it for himself. Built around an existing building in Modena, an early 19th century house restored to its original condition, the building reminds one of a classic Ferrari engine hood, with the curved shape, the vents and the bright Ferrari yellow (contrary to what most people believe, the brand’s colour is yellow as you can see in their logo, and is also Modena’s).

The building was not finished without trouble. Future Systems, the architectural practice that won the 2004 competition for the museum was dissolved in 2009, as the construction was about to start, due to the demise of Jan Kaplicky, the head architect. Andrea Morgante, his former associate and director of this project, was appointed by Ferrari to finish the task. With the help of his new studio, Shiro, he made it.

The total area encompassed by the museum is 5,000 square meters for both buildings. The old one, build in 1830, having been the house and workshop of Enzo Ferrari, now houses the history of the firm, in an interior construction designed by Andrea Morgante, to remind one of a book’s pages, fluttering open to give a glimpse of its contents. Te construction, which keeps each further chapter a secret until the visitor advances to it, runs the whole length of the 40m workshop, while the house encompasses two smaller exhibitions and administrative offices.

The new building, sloping gently to embrace the old, much like the new technology of Ferrari embraces it’s long history, has on display the main exhibition of Ferrari cars, including the most prestigious ones: about 40 models, selected on a rotating basis from amongst all of Ferrari cars ever, based on the company’s own specimens and the collaboration with many Italian and international car museums and collectors around the world.

Apart from the impressive curved aluminium roof, the building has a double curved structural glass facade that filters sunlight in the vast, almost continuous interior. Thermo sensors, photovoltaic technology, water recycling and the use of geothermal energy (a very sensible move since half the permanent exhibition space is below ground level), make the building almost unique in Italy for employing energy saving systems that are environmentally friendly in a museum.

Article written by Stratos Bacalis for The 6 Million Dollar Story

Photos courtesy of Cento29 and Andrea Morgante

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Prostho Museum Research Centre by Kengo Kuma

Kengo Kuma - with offices in both Japan and Paris - is not your regular architect. His work with wood is very idiosyncratic and gives a particular architectural identity that makes his buildings stand out. He has a unique way of designing and constructing with wood, honouring the Japanese tradition, but with his look firmly turned to the future.

Prostho Museum Research is a characteristic sample of Kuma's oeuvre. The inspiration for its design was an old Japanese game called cidori. In it, one puts together wooden sticks with joints of a unique shape. The shapes you achieve just change by rotating the wood, without any nails or other metal. This game's tradition passes from one generation to the next in the small mountain city of Hida Takayama, where there are still many skilled craftsmen.

The building is in Aichi of central Japan and was designed by Kuma, while it was constructed with the help of engineer Jun Sato and craftsmen from Hida Takayama, applying the cidori principles. The game has as it's basic element a wooden stick with a cross section side of 12 mm. That was translated with a variety of sizes into the building, with a cross section side of 60mm and basic lengths of 2 or 4 meters. The grid of the structure is 50 cm. The same grid is also used inside the museum for its permanent exhibition.

The wooden structure of the building is not only a decorative element, but also makes up its basic structural frame. The architect believes that modern buildings with shells that simply cover their structural frame are useless. For him, there is no element of the building that is simply decorative - all play a major part in its construction.

The core of the structure, behind the exhibition space, supports all the wooden construction. By placing sheets of glass to fill the grid, the architect managed to give the impression of a wooden grid running through the building in all its length, uniting the interior with the exterior space. The museum is basically a showroom for the GC dental hygiene company and was first presented in the Milano Salone in 2007. Visitors are probably in a dilemma between the permanent exhibition with the history of artificial dentures and the building that houses it.

The architect likens a walk inside the building with a walk in a deciduous tree forest, where one can enjoy the sunlight through the branches. His repulsion towards the use of concrete and metal led him to redefine the use of wood through a traditional Japanese game. Building with wood from the surrounding area, with the cidori system, he also suggests an alternative solution to modern architecture: the building as a result of human labour instead of mechanical perfection. A look to the future with the feet firmly planted in a centuries old tradition.

Article first published in The Six Million Dollar Story

Monday, March 05, 2012

A tale of a fin

It's wonderful to see how things can translate into design: from the now classic 60s Cadillac tail fin to the 80s Thierry Mugler car corset to the 2012 Prada "car" shoe. Just imagine an inspired actress wearing corset and shoe, getting out of a 60s Cadillac to arrive at the Oscar's ceremony. How pale the rest of the pack would instantly look. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Zaha indeed

The Iranian architect Zaha Hadid is an infamous figure, talked about both for her innovative, uncompromising work, and the fact that she is the only famous woman architect in an art still dominated by men. Her buildings are symbols of both talent and technological developments, causing both positive and negative comments. Which makes one realise that she has never gone for a typical project.

The Riverside Museum in Glasgow would not be an exception. Built to replace the old Museum of Transport on the banks of the city's river, Clive, it attracts the passers-by with the lines, the zigzag roof and its incredible curves. The metal construction lined with sheets of zinc, was designed to resemble sheds that house trains, buses, planes - namely those which it will host inside. The wavy curves allow the frame to support the whole structure without many internal columns, leaving plenty of space for exhibits.

 Open from two sides, towards the river and the city, it manages to attract the public and emphasises the relationship of the building with the city and the environment. It unites the river with the city, forming a link that, depending on the configuration of internal partitions, may be more open or closed. The zigzag of the plan forces the showroom to be clearer towards the visitor. The unusual lime green colour of the interior walls helps achieve this, selected by Hadid in collaboration with the company Event Communication Ltd. who developed and studied the museum's permanent exhibition.

Beyond its 7500 sq.m. exhibition space, the museum also has a real sailing ship moored at a special pier in front of it: the Tall Ship Glenlee. The cafe of the museum has excellent views over the River Clyde and the Kelvin, which joins the Clyde just below the site. Thus Glasgow acquires a museum that is expected to attract numerous visitors from around the world for its architectural value - the wonderful exhibits (trains, planes, cars etc.) are the icing on the proverbial cake.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Interior design workshop in Athens

It's humanity's nature not only using and shaping it's surrounding space but also fill it with beauty and meaning. By using the term interior design we describe that group of projects that are about transforming an interior space into an effective environment for the spectrum of human activities taking place there. 

Designers and interior architects have defined the relationship of humans and their environment based on psychological and natural parameters, with the purpose of improving their quality of life. This procedure delivers economic, functional, aesthetic and social advantages and in that way provides strategic thought, which aims into the multifaceted performance of an investment. 

The first ESO, a workshop dedicated to interior design, wants to gather the creative society of these designers so as to introduce their work to us and also their dynamic, their thoughts and perspectives. We will be able to see the way in which it develops and draw conclusions about its place in Greek reality.

The speakers panel for ESO, which will take place at the Onassis Cultural Centre on the 7th of February is: 

- Maria Vafeiadis (mkv design) Key Note Speaker  
- Zeppos - Georgiadi (zege)
- Babis Ioannou (ISV)
- Dimitris Karampatakis (k-studio)
- Memos Philippidis (mplusm)
Presenting: Giannis Douridas, Architect   |  Pecha Kucha Athens


Distinguished graphic designers will take part in the workshop with short intervening presentations. They will examine the relationship between graphic and interior design.

The art direction and design of the ESO communication is by Stage Design Office. Soon there will be more information. Due to the limited number of seats, please reserve your seat soon here.

The workshop is organized by the magazine +design in collaboration with