Refugee apartments at risk of demolition

At 8 p.m. on Thursday, «The Refugee Apartments Today» will be the subject of a discussion with Dimitris Filippidis, emeritus professor at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Maro Kardamitsi-Adam, author and NTUA professor, and Vika Gizeli, adviser to the Pedagogy Institute. The discussion is being held in connection with the exhibition, «The Land of Attica Receives the Refugees of 1922,» at the Greek Parliament Foundation (1 Mitropoleos, Syntagma). Built in the Bauhaus style in 1936 to house the refugees who were living in camps, the refugee apartments on Alexandras Avenue are now in danger of being demolished. The refugees who lived there have titles to the property which have been passed on to the descendants. The residents refuse to leave a lively neighborhood in the center of Athens that has seen war, occupation, the December uprising of 1944, and is a repository of historical memory. The buildings have survived, but they have been left to rot. An historic ruling by the Council of State has prohibited the destruction of these exceptional examples of Bauhaus design, as the Culture Ministry had requested when PASOK was in power, «with the exception of three at the side.» The Council of State ruled that they should be preserved, for their «collective historical memory and their architectural value.» Many developers still want them demolished to make way for a park above ground, a car park below and commercial use. Neither the Public Works Ministry in the New Democracy government nor the City of Athens has shown the necessary awareness. In the hope that Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis will protect those sentinels of the past, which are built on such prime real estate, we will attend the event.