CULTURE

Deluxe books on architects now at work

On Christmas Eve, on the mezzanine of a bookstore in Kolonaki, last-minute shoppers leafed through deluxe publications on architecture. Their eyes skimmed over images of dream homes set into rocks on Aegean islands against backdrops of dazzling sunsets, high-tech apartments in downtown Athens, modern villas in the suburbs, representatives large and small of an urban chic that sets 21st-century Greeks dreaming. Traditionally during the festive season, store windows fill up with such illustrated volumes, aimed at the ever-growing tribe of consumers who don’t necessarily read. The appeal of illustrated volumes on architecture reaches far beyond the small community of people who are interested in architecture. As in other countries, these books appeared in Greece to satisfy new needs, a sign of newly acquired prosperity. Architecture has become a reflection of fantasies, dreams and fixations. The trend emerged in the early 1990s and has intensified ever since. Two new arrivals aimed at this target group introduce readers to the work of some leading architectural practices in Athens and Thessaloniki. «Architektoniki ISV» (Architecture ISV) with photographs by Erieta Attali and an introduction by Dimitris Filippides, is published by Melissa. «Katerina Tsigarida, Architecture 1996-2000,» with texts by Josep Acebillo and Andreas Yiakoummakatos, is published by Libro. Both books are bilingual editions in English and Greek. It is a sign of the maturing market that both books present the work of practices that are currently being applied. It is almost unheard for work that has not yet been evaluated by the critics to appear on the shelves of bookstores. Something is changing. It has been changing since ISV opened in Athens in 1977. Architecture, design and interior design established new urban values, paving the way for the 21st century. The three architects of ISV, Babis Ioannou, Tassos Sotiropoulos and Alexandros van Gilder, embraced them at once. Among the first in Greece to realize the need for an almost holistic approach to the process of design, they proposed an overall package for urban living. High-tech, neutral settings adorn the houses of tomorrow. Tsigarida, whose work is divided almost equally between buildings and urban planning, has a more ascetic outlook. After studying in Thessaloniki and London, and gaining professional experience with Ilias Zengelis and the Dutch star Rem Koolhaas, Tsigarida has succeeded in formulating her own language of a prism-like shell, natural materials and a very personal touch in surrounding areas. This new book is an excellent introduction to the work of an Athenian architect who lives and works in Thessaloniki.