The unseen side of architecture

Perhaps the best designs of some architects are those that were never built. Without ever materializing, they remained ideas, models and projects that never found a place in history and collective memory. A new edition of material from unexecuted works by prominent Greek architects was recently published by Papasotiriou Editions. «Architektoniki – Idees pou Hanontai, Idees pou Synantiountai» (Architecture – Ideas that are Lost, Ideas that Come Together) is a group effort and an attempt to save intangible heritage. Dedicated to architecture professor Ioannis Despotopoulos (1903-1992), the new edition includes an introduction by prominent architect Tassos Biris. In a long, profound and moving text, the architect draws on his own, at times painful, experiences in order to recount what it’s like being an architect in this country. The book includes award-winning projects which never materialized, were abandoned and, in some cases, projects that were simply not completed due to local politics. Divided into 14 themes, the publication also presents texts and artworks, given that a number of local architects and intellectuals, such as Ilias Papayiannopoulos (1939-1998) and Alexis Syriopoulos (1941-1992), among others, were multifaceted creators, members of a longstanding tradition. The new edition covers works and ideas by Giorgos Angelis, Eleni Amerikanou, Panos Exarchopoulos, Dimitris Isaias, Alexandros Kleidonas, Panos Kokkoris, Yiannis Moustakas, Katerina Michalopoulou, Dimitris Biris, Tassos Biris, Ilias Papayiannopoulos, Giorgos Papayiannopoulos, Tasis Papaioannou, Eleni Roussou, Alexi Syriopoulou, Antonis Touloumis and Sofias Tsiraki. The power of ideas Through the publication of architectural studies that did not materialize, the book aims to vindicate the architects’ ideas, the driving force behind the designs. In the introduction, Biris writes about «hovering shadows,» all those ideas yearning for «material completion.» According to the architect, this phenomenon is not a coincidental singularity that affects a few professionals. «On the contrary,» he writes, «it is a deep and characteristic collective problem facing the majority of Greek architects who respect their work and don’t wish it to go commercial. It is the fact that the greatest and best part of their work is not carried out.» The edition is defined by a sense of healthy romanticism and a feeling of architectural nationalism as well as pure faith in the effect architecture has on society. Ultimately, it comes across as an unofficial manifesto, redefining the nature of the profession at a time when architecture is either trivialized or is dealt with superficially, bereft of its semantic depth and weight.