Culture center park due next year

A 3-hectare park next to a new opera and national library in the Greek capital’s southern Faliro district will be ready by autumn next year, officials said Friday.

The park, which is set to come under the jurisdiction of the Kallithea Municipality, is part of an ambitious cultural complex currently under construction with funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Built on the site of a former horse-racing track, the 566-million-euro project designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano is one of the few ongoing large-scale projects in the debt-hit country. Featuring Greece’s new National Library and National Opera House, it is scheduled for completion in the early months of 2013.

Excavation work for the ultramodern venue has been completed and the foundations are being laid, SNF spokesman Theodoros Maravelias said Friday during a tour for journalists.

The 10,000 sq.m. rooftop of the main structure will be made of ferrocement, a durable yet light material, and it will carry a series of solar panels to cater for the building’s energy needs. The site will be raised by the creation of a hill that will offer views over the sea and Athens.

Officials said progress has been made in excavating an ancient cemetery located on the site. The findings, which date back to the 8th and 9th centuries BC, are to go on permanent display at the new venue.

The park will feature an Olympic-size swimming pool, a soccer field and a playground.

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