CULTURE

Architecture in the spotlight

Whenever architect Minas Papadakis happened to host friends from abroad in Athens, he faced a chronic problem. His friends wanted him to instruct them on strolls through the city that would acquaint them with the unknown aspects of contemporary Athenian architecture. But guided tours would only go as far as the Byzantine era and did not offer anything in languages other than Greek. (They still don’t.) So he was obliged to create a personal guide that had to include all of the capital’s particularities – the buildings that are spread out across the vast city (instead of being concentrated in small groups, as is the case in other European cities), as well as the difficulties of access and transport. But the problems were solved when the Athens-based architect, who has an office in Kolonaki with colleague Tassos Apostolos (the two were awarded the first prize in the competition for the restoration of the Alana in Thessaloniki’s suburb of Toumba), came across the network for architect guides. This network, www.guiding-architects.net, includes 15 European cities – Hamburg, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Munich, Bregenz, Oslo, Porto and Stockholm. Professional architects run guided tours in their cities, focusing on contemporary architectural production. At the latest meeting, which took place in Porto, network representatives decided to include Rome and Athens in the program. «We are talking about Athenian architecture from the 1930s onward, when modernism started to gain its place in Greece. It is nice to be able to introduce an era of Greek architecture which is almost unknown to the foreign public, but also to locals,» said Papadakis. «We are also addressing Greeks. It would be great to include locals in our guided tours so as to clear up certain misunderstandings.» Five different thematic tours are on offer: «1950s-1960s: Greek Modernism,» «Modern Regionalism,» «The Evolution of the Apartment Block,» «Architecture for Tourism» and «Highlights.» But these tours are only meant to facilitate those interested, who are free to create their own guided tour. The initiative has been welcomed by flat owners and managers, but access to schools has proved more difficult. The guided tours, which are conducted in four languages – English, Greek, Spanish and Italian – are based on flexibility, which means that clients can also decide on the time schedule. «There are two-hour, four-hour and six-hour programs which can include one or more stops or even a meal,» Papadakis said. Prices also vary, depending on the time and the number of participants. A two-hour program usually starts from -100. For further information, log on to www.arcult.gr or call 210.729.1328.