Designers of blueprint for Monastiraki hope that they will ‘always be young’

«Recent comments by Yiannis Kalantidis, architect and president of the office for the Unification of Athens Archaeological Sites (EAXA) offends us both as citizens and as the architects who won the 1998 European competition to redesign Monastiraki Square… As an architect, Mr Kalantidis should know that architectural competitions are the only transparent and safe way to ensure the city’s future, and a process which he himself says was decided on when EAXA was founded. Yet, as he then goes on to admit: ‘If we were to start over, I would not hold (them).’ What would he have done then? Would he prefer the ‘safe’ solution of contracted projects that have brought the city to where it is now? «… After a European architectural competition and four years of hard work and research, the square will be refurbished, according to a letter from EAXA (February 25, 2003) and after we had already handed in the final design and the implementation study (February 3, 2003), with ‘rectangular Karystos or Pelion flagstones and areas of vegetation.’ «A decision was reached for a solution in which the architectural competition was made completely irrelevant, and the implementation study, as well as our own selves, completely useless… «We believe that Mr Kalantidis’s decision has insulted not only us designers but the judges’ committee, of which he himself was a member. He also disregards legal procedures and is indifferent to the colossal waste of public money. Therefore, we would like to ask him why he held the competition at all, why in his capacity as president of the judges’ panel did he approve our design, and why did EAXA assign us the study. «… Finally, we would like to remind Mr Kalantidis, although he is well aware of the fact, that we are not all that young and inexperienced. Each of us has a wealth of experience, has completed long years of study and participated in groups, competitions and research related to Athens… Unless, of course, he means that in order to acquire ‘experience’ and ‘maturity’ one has to subject oneself to humiliation and compromises, and forfeit one’s vision for the city and its public spaces. A vision for a city involves cost, courage and the transcendence of bureaucracy, as well as trust in new ideas and cooperation, so that the city can acquire a new look. The architect Aristoumenis Provelengios once wrote that this required ‘prudence, ethos and incredible creativity.’ We have only to add that we will always be young.» The architects: Nikos Kazeros, Zina Costopoulou, Vasso Manidaki, Christina Parakente, Eleni Tzirtzilaki.