Architects in conflict over competitions

After Omonia Square, what next? The unexpected publicity generated by the square’s new look has galvanized architects into defending their role. A meeting held in early May by the Architects’ Association (SADAS) on the subject of architectural competitions reflects serious concern about recent developments affecting the present and the future of such competitions and, to a much greater extent, about the place of architects and architecture in Greek society. Yiannis Kalantidis, president of the Unification of Athens’s Archaeological Sites (EAXA), is responsible for the four architectural competitions currently being implemented, albeit with significant alterations. He attempted to calm a rather hostile audience, saying: «I’m not apologizing. Nobody is perfect, and I accept the criticism for any mistakes. If EAXA is at fault, I accept personal responsibility.» Kalantidis insisted that the changes made to the design for Omonia Square were not significant. He called for an institutional framework to protect architectural work and suggested the establishment of a Supreme Architectural Council. Savvas Kontaratos, head of the jury for the Omonia Square competition, requested that there be no change in the basic concept before a reasonable time has elapsed, saying that, so far, the assessments of the square had been «hasty and forced.» Speaking on behalf of the four architects who signed the study for the square, Grigoris Desylas commented, «What we see today has nothing to do with the award-winning study.»