Silk factory to get revitalizing revamp

Standing at 34 meters high, the chimney of the landmark silk factory is hard to miss. The largest in the town of Soufli, in northeastern Greece, the factory is an industrial architectural complex, imposing not just in terms of size but also aesthetically. Initially erected in 1909, the complex came under the ownership of the Givre brothers in 1920. Today the structure, which belongs to the Municipality of Soufli, is about to receive a serious facelift. The call to tender is scheduled to take place this Thursday at a cost set at 930,000 euros, a sum already approved by the regional authorities of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. «This is a huge step,» said Yiannis Kakalis, president of the municipal services for Soufli’s cultural and tourist development. «We have a proposal for the complex’s utilization. Future visitors will have an opportunity to go back in time. They will be able to experience, through the use of sound and color, what life was like in the factory. At the same time, the premises could also be used as a conference center,» said Kakalis. Silent space Today, the 9,000-square-meter complex is a silent space filled with memories. The machinery lies intact, tangled in cobwebs and the sun streams onto the floor through the damaged roof. One feels the shadows of all those who spent their days working here. Only a fraction of one’s imagination is necessary to visualize what this complex could give back to the local economy and boost the locals’ self-esteem. The upcoming work is vital for the complex’s survival. Based on a study made at the initiative of the local municipality, the building ought to be properly resupported, while access to the entire complex must also be made safe. Following a competition, the municipality now has architectural studies for the complex’s entire revamp. For the time being, however, priority must be given to eliminating the danger of collapse, looting or further dilapidation. Like a whisper, one single fairy tale runs through Soufli: the wonderful story of silk. The area’s longstanding tradition as a silk maker is still evident today, with visitors purchasing all kind of silk products during their stay. This tradition, however, is now looking toward some kind of expansion as well as into ways for boosting the local economy. The Givre factory could lead the way, in the same way that To Koukouli, the impressive municipal hotel, was restored by the local authorities. Built by the architectural firm of Ceriano Fratelli of Milan, the complex is perhaps one of the most important factories built in the southern Balkan region. Today, it seems to be Soufli’s ticket toward a more dynamic present and future.