New look on the way for tobacco factory

“That’s how we want the tobacco factory to be,» said Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, indicating the new model for the exterior of the building at 218 Lenorman, on January 20. Four years ago, the Public Real Estate Company handed over the state tobacco factory building to Parliament. Following some initial conservation work, the building already houses the Parliamentary Library’s publications, microfilm, digital storage, art and document conservation departments, as well as its collection of unique newspapers and magazines. There are two reading rooms for users of microfilm and printed sources. Kaklamanis said he wanted Parliament to «give this building as a culture center to an area that seems run-down.» The next step is to move the Benaki Library to the tobacco factory building on a temporary basis until its own building next to the Old Parliament is renovated. The move will cost 600,000 euros. Renovation of the first floor of the former factory should be complete by spring this year, and the 1,850-square-meter area will be set up as the City Library, not accessible to the public, containing 55,000 of the volumes currently held at the Parliament. A reading area to contain around 20,000 titles accessible to the general public will be created inside the City Library. Refurbishment of the exterior, budgeted at 6.5 million euros, will take a year. The original tobacco factory was designed by civil engineer and architect N. Gavalas and built in 1927. It has a total area of 18,500 square meters on three floors and used to house small tobacco workshops, the last of which moved out in the 1990s. In 1989, the Culture Ministry listed it for preservation as an historic building. Kathimerini asked Kaklamanis if the entire collection would be moved to the new site. «Currently there are about 800,000 books at the Parliament, which create static problems in the building,» he said. «In 1999, we assigned the task of reorganizing the library to the University of Crete. In the future, the library will be strictly parliamentary, with about 50,000 volumes. The other 55,000 will be a dowry to the City Library.» Everyone involved in the project wants the new library to work on the same strict principles that govern the present one, but also to help upgrade the area culturally. The venue will be of interest not only to experts and researchers but also to anyone who wants to borrow books or study in the reading rooms. As for the present library site, Kaklamanis said it will continue to be used for cultural activities, whether these are exhibitions, publications or art acquisitions, for which artist and Athens Academy member Panayiotis Tetsis is responsible.

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