Saturday October 25, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
19o C
12o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Skyscrapers in suburbia

 A story about a high-rise utopia
The structure provides an intriguing contrast to the modest, low-rise architecture of Athenians’ prized suburbia.

By Harry van Versendaal

Mr Leonidas didn’t go looking for his apartment. It was more like the other way around.

It was the early 1970s and Mr Leonidas was teaching high school math in an impoverished suburb of Athens. During his lunch break one day, he came across a leaflet printed by the teachers’ association, advertising a new kind of neighborhood for educators. A few years later, with the help of a low-interest bank loan, he, his wife and their three children headed uptown, to the far wealthier suburb of Neo Psychico.

Today, the Teachers’ House, as it is known, provides an intriguing contrast to the modest, low-rise architecture of Athenians’ prized suburbia. Hardly beautiful as a structure, the unimpeded sea view from the tallest tower’s 15th floor, standing 56 meters above street level, is enough to send Greece’s skyscraper lovers, who have few such buildings to admire, into paroxysms of joy – or, at least, touch those who are moved by the qualities imbued in a massive concrete edifice.

If every home has a story to tell, then these modernist high rises use a language rarely observed in Greek abodes.

A decorative motif of rose, peach and tan tiles – possibly a failed effort at whimsy – and a series of gray ellipses girdle the apartment block from its flat roof to its base, emphasizing its horizontal axis almost as if embarrassed by its towering size. At least it can take pride in its generously wide balconies, a rare sight in the high rises of the West.

Sitting in his beige easy chair, Mr Leonidas, a pensioner and for years Block C’s superintendent, yarns about his home’s beginnings, back when they were just a spark in one dreamy literature teacher’s eyes. In the late 60s, Nikolaos Stamatopoulos, who taught at the private Leontios School, traveled to Italy. “He was so impressed by the rows of apartment blocks designed for workers that he decided to get together with some of his colleagues to build a similar apartment building, just for teachers,” says Mr Leonidas. It remains a mystery whether his desire was also fueled by the ideals of a modern academic utopia.

The Teachers’ House was designed by architects Stavros and Angelos Vaseiliou under the junta-era development statute “Law ÁÍ 395/68 on the Heights of Buildings and Free Construction,” which allowed for the construction of tall buildings with up to 28 inhabitable levels. After myriad technical challenges and one bankruptcy, the block was completed in 1973, albeit without the roof garden and ground-level shops foreseen in the original plans.

Along with the “Twin Towers” at its northern end, the Teachers’ House is still considered a landmark, a recognizable anomaly, by commuters who drive along the otherwise monotonous Mesogeion Avenue.

As the years passed, however, the block’s academic character was diluted. “There were fewer teachers per se and more of their spouses, and cousins and children,” says Mr Leonidas. However, the buildings retain the triumvirate of superintendents, a residents’ council and the porter.

The cracks that appeared after the 1981 earthquake were covered over by an outer shell of concrete and the whole exterior was spruced up with a generous Olympic Games-era grant, but inside the shabby hallways, the passage of time cannot be disguised.

Forty years after he first moved in, photographs of Mr Leonidas’s six grandchildren adorn his walls. His three children have all become doctors and two them live here, on the 8th and 10th floors. His own apartment is much closer to the ground.

“Not everybody likes living up high,” he says, smiling. “A lot of people complain they get dizzy.”

ekathimerini.com , Thursday December 27, 2012 (11:22)  
Rackets corner souvenir market at the foot of the Acropolis
Local businesses come together to raise Zagorochoria’s profile
After 20 years of cutting waste, feeding the needy, food bank keeps up good work during crisis
Gazi: One Athenian district that seems to be riding out the storm
TRAVEL
Galaxidi: Silent eloquence
When you arrive at Galaxidi the first thing that strikes you is the quiet. The road into the picturesque coastal village at the foot of Mount Parnassus leads you to Nikolaos Mamas Square – n...
Acropolis Museum to put the daily lives of the ancients on display
Until now, visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens could only peer through the glass floors of the Bernard Tschumi-designed structure to get an idea of the ancient neighborhood lying amon...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. A win is a win is a win for Olympiakos
2. TAIPED waits for green light from Eurostat
3. Trade deficit shrinks on big drop in imports
4. SMEs unable to claim subsidies
5. Taxes kept growing in second quarter
6. Thessaloniki Port expects 2014 to be record year
more news
Today
This Week
1. End of reason, end of humanity
2. Banks need to step up
3. Woman killed in tram accident in Floisvo, south of Athens
4. Clocks to go back 1 hour on Sunday
5. Venizelos slams Turkey for 'flagrant violation of international law' off Cyprus
6. ECB vies for third time lucky in European stress tests
Today
This Week
1. The past, present and future of the Greek debt crisis
2. Greece’s closed society is central to its current malaise
3. Greece must stick to reforms, says Schaeuble
4. At least 11 banks to fail European stress tests, three in Greece, report says
5. Cyprus to block Turkey's EU talks after EEZ violation
6. Stop moaning and get in the game
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.