CULTURE

Marfin building, reborn from the ashes

Until May 5 last year, the eclectic three-story structure at 23 Stadiou Street was one the finest examples of prewar architecture on this central Athenian thoroughfare.

Everything changed on that day when self-styled anarchists tossed firebombs into the building during an anti-austerity demonstration, directly causing the deaths of three Marfin Bank employees by asphyxiation.

In the days that followed, hundreds of people visited the site of the tragedy, placing flowers at the entrance to pay tribute to the memory of the three victims.

In the minds of millions of Greeks, the anonymous building has since that day become synonymous with one of the darkest events in recent Greek history. The building has yet to shed the shadow of death.

The tension which marked the following few weeks was replaced by a period of silence. Many people — including this writer — thought that years would pass before any sign of life returned to the building?s interior.

We were wrong. Thanks to a Marfin Bank initiative, the building will be repaired. A plan by A+D architects is waiting for approval from the Culture Ministry’s central committee of modern monuments. Should the committee give the green light, works are scheduled to begin this autumn. The project is scheduled to be completed in six months.

Architect Klearchos Maleas told Kathimerini that most work is needed on the ground level. The second and third floor escaped largely unscathed from the fire. Naturally, the plan puts special emphasis on fire safety. An inspector from the Labor Ministry has said that the bank did not possess the necessary fire safety certification.

The building is set to be fully reconstructed. Marfin has said that the renovated structure will not host a branch of the bank, but will instead be used to accommodate company offices.

In its original form, the building was constructed around 1880. It was the property of Stamatios Dekozis Vouros (1792-1881), a banker from the island of Chios. Vouros also owned the Ernst Ziller-designed structure at 19-21 Stadiou Street and the nearby buildings at 5 and 7 Paparrigopoulou Street, which now hosts the Museum of the City of Athens.