Two cultural revamps on Pireos

Two industrial spaces on Pireos Street that have been out of operation for years are now being drafted onto the cultural map of Athens by the Hellenic Festival and its new director, Giorgos Loukos. The first is the now-idle factory of the Tsaousoglou metal furniture manufacturer, located right next to the Athens School of Fine Arts, and the other is the former Sanitas factory further south in the Rendi district. The Tsaousoglou warehouses were first used as a space for hosting art events in 1999, for a Philip Glass concert organized by the Hellenic Festival. Since then, the space has been fought over quite strenuously. The dean of the School of Fine Arts, Chronis Bostoglou, had asked for the space to be used for the school’s gallery, library and amphitheater, while suddenly last summer the factory came up as a proposed site for the new National Library. The area comprises an irregular collection of buildings, of which the Hellenic Festival will be utilizing 2,500 square meters located at the back of the complex. The outer walls of the stone-block building with its large windows will not be altered; only the roof is being rebuilt. The inside will be renovated to include a stage, an amphitheater with 600 seats and other auxiliary rooms, while the perimeter will be made into a garden and the foyer will house a bar and possibly a restaurant. Construction work is scheduled to begin in April. The renovation of the Sanitas factory, on the other hand, is partly the initiative of the acclaimed Greek actress Irene Papas, who wants the building to house the Scholeio, an original drama school with modern infrastructure that could also host theatrical performances and other cultural events. This area also comprises stone buildings set around an open garden space of 1,620 square meters. The festival will be using the revamped amphitheater, seating 500, as the complete renovation project, signed by architect Manos Perrakis, is not yet complete.

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