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Chronicle of a competition

The intense criticism over the refurbishment of Omonia Square over the last few months was chiefly aimed at the architectural designers of the work (A. Vozanis, G. Desyllas, M. Katsika and T. Tsiata) but also, directly or indirectly, struck at the whole institution of architectural competitions. I regard this institution as the most effective, transparent and democratic means of promoting architecture. I would like therefore, to reject this criticism, to remind people that a competition’s final result is the outcome of a series of parameters decided upon conjointly. For the Omonia Square architectural competition, the following points need to made: The competition organizers adopted as the outline of the square a random scheme in the shape of an amoeba, which emerged from an unchanged traffic management proposal by Attiko Metro that was not based on urban-planning criteria. The announcement of the competition (in June 1998) did not set out absolutely clear and binding criteria for the contestants in relation to the desired identity of the square. Thus, the winning architects, lacking the guidance that should have been outlined in the competition, stated that they did not aim for a square that was «hospitable» or green or a square to stop and rest in, since, in their opinion, Omonia today has an utterly different character. After the prizes were awarded, an advisory committee was formed after a proposal of mine, which made certain recommendations to the designers (in February 1999), including the incorporation of places to rest and greenery in the square and a re-examination of the organic relationship between the square and Athinas Street. Unfortunately, these did not change the original designs by much, which were implemented with small divergences from their basic plans.