In the spirit of Marcel Proust, “remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” Thus the architectural design process explored “How to invite the public in forming the new future for this industrial icon and area.” and introduced new programmes and activities. The industrial complex is located near the ancient and busy Peiraios Avenue, which connects Athens with the port of Piraeus . Its urban surrounding is a curious juxtaposition between the Acropolis and the building remains of the migrated industries. The factory is elegantly and strategically situated between the up-and-coming Gazi and the classic Thission in the core of the new artistic and leisure centre of Athens. The influx of cultural institutions and new residents are driving the rapid transformation of the area into one of Athens’ cultural hubs. Building design The 5000 sqm building was originally built for the company ‘Palco’, one of the largest manufacturers for T-shirts in Greece. The building has been left unused since the manufacturing moved out in the late 80’s during which period the building played a significant role.
The existing building is currently converted into a series of large contemporary residential lofts on the upper floors, whereas the street level is transformed into a large and open cultural space with exhibition and meeting facilities, dinning and reading spaces. The design uncovers and emphasizes the building’s industrial spatial character by exposing the striking heavy and frank concrete superstructure on its facades and interiors. The Communal Spaces are designed to expose the history of the building and simultaneously to allow for a new housing typology in Athens to be generated. The internal spaces of the lofts are designed to allow maximum flexibility for the occupant. The new facade is taking a prominent position; exposing its heavy concrete beams and columns as a reminder of the area’s industrial past, while simultaneously expressing a new topography of varies urban living activities in its balcony design. The process of rejuvenating and creating a distinct contemporary identity for the building started before any construction works began. A breath of new life was given by hosting happenings, art exhibitions, installations and video projections. Through these events new energies and excitement of the potential of the space was released nominating the ground floor for a place of public debate, various cultural events and public exhibition and naming it the HUB. Under the construction site floodlights a public Pecha Kucha Night in Athens Vol. #2 was hosted on Friday 8th May 2009; where different disciplines came together such as graphic designers, animators, architects, biologists, chefs, designers, tenors, sopranos and others presented 20 images x 20 seconds each on whatever they find exciting to trigger an exchange of ideas and debate. The building’s completion is celebrated with the international Art exhibition “Volume One – Props, Events and Encounters”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaELiAbWUA