CULTURE

Confessions of a Greek architect

In a poetic and confessional mood, Alexandros Tombazis – perhaps one of the most self-critical architects in Greece – reconstructs his recent work in an anthology of completed buildings and studies entered in competitions. His book presents 30 works chosen from hundreds. The process of selection itself is an action of catharsis, a re-evaluation of a dynamic career that, ever since the 1960s, has encompassed personal development and an understanding of the international environment. Tombazis is a talented author, and his voice in the accompanying texts is profound, comprehensible, complex and sincere. He writes about what architecture means to him, as someone who has constructed projects large and small, public and private, and who has managed to surmount the barrier that surrounds the enclosed world of Greek architecture to become known and respected by the general public. We associate his work with bioclimatic architecture because he has put so much time into analyzing and understanding the function of architecture itself and the constantly changing international environment. In this book, Tombazis reveals a cosmopolitan outlook as he reflects on location, materials and the elements of nature. Though his architecture is devoid of any local references, it still seems to spring from the place. Its mild profile derives from the relation between timelessness and modern technology. Are Tombazis’s buildings timeless? And is timelessness an issue? Probably not, if one judges by the need of the architect to respond to certain criteria set by the site, the era, the customer and the community. But the values reflected in his work often go beyond these criteria and, in certain cases – such as the church of Fatima in Portugal – far outstrip them, giving priority to spirituality. A complex personality, Tombazis writes with courage about the contemporary architecture scene, without timidity about the future, without caution for the present, and without nostalgia about the past. He inhabits his era consciously and perceptively. His experience of the here and now has endowed Greece with buildings that illustrate his ideas about form. The aesthetics of his buildings derive not only from the choice of materials but also from the introduction of natural elements – light and air. Dimitris Philipidis said of Tombazis in the prologue: «His eye is accustomed to controlling passion, capturing the wisdom of nature, the simplicity of timeless tradition and the perfection of advanced technology in exactly the same tranquil manner. And he expresses it all with the same intensity – photographing, painting and drawing. It is all one. You’d think that India, where he was born, bequeathed him far more than he himself was ready to accept.» The album was edited by Eleni Kritika and is part of Libro publishing house’s Architecture/City series.