NEWS

Andreas Giakoumakatos, architect

Greece is not the same country that it was before the Olympic Games. This great event puts cities on the global map, and this is the case with Athens, which is something positive. If, then, the Olympic Games managed to foster a new national self-consciousness, this would be an exceptionally positive outcome, as long as it doesn’t lead to the other extreme: a swollen national ego that transforms the country into the navel of the Earth, as repellent and irritating an attitude as is viewing Greece as the permanent underdog. What Greece needs is to become a normal country, neither better nor worse than others, a normal country which works and produces, while the same applies to Athens. The successful hosting of the Olympic Games will have positive results on future developments, and hopefully lead to a change in mentality, which is precisely our problem. An overall attitude to the city, which is not something we can have at present, will emerge after we have experienced the way it functions. Of course, the shock of the transformation is still great. Athens is a new city and we might soon be called upon to deal with new problems. But the city’s further advance is not ensured by the Games bonanza, but by new perceptions of the Olympic Games. And we should not forget that along with positive comments, there was the charge sheet by ecological organizations. The environmental problem in Athens remains a huge one. As for architecture, pre-Olympic production was uneven, but not discouragingly so. Whatever the case, it is simply inadequate to provide answers to the problems of a city of 5 million people. Andreas Giakoumakatos is assistant professor at the History of Architecture Department of the University of Thessaloniki.