NEWS

Marble, illuminated water, pergola with honeysuckle and jasmine

Those who complain about what they see as an excessive use of concrete may not have noticed that many materials are used in the square. The center is paved with durable, non-slip marble from Mesolongi. It is a sandy color, which the architects say will darken after the first rains. Special pathways are paved with a different kind of marble, and the custom-made light fittings are of metal. Also made of metal is the pergola, which will provide a cool oasis when the honeysuckle, jasmine and bougainvillea grow and cover it. Chemical toilets have replaced the old semi-underground toilets which used to be in the central position now occupied by the artificial waterfall. This cave, as the architects call it, is the square’s central point of reference. The waters rise up as if from an ancient spring and their sound is soothing to the ears. In the evening, the lights make it look a different shape. Small jets of water add to the theatrical effect, which is even more intense on the side facing Koumbari, where there is a corner for children. «We put in a red metal bridge with a wooden floor,» explain the architects, «which has a surreal effect.» Like an outsized child’s toy, the little bridge is in the shape of a meander which has a sense of mystery, like a spiral. There are lavender bushes all around and in the center an almond tree. That is the poetic element in an environment that is absolutely modern but also full of associations. An aerial view of the square would show how the new diagonals converse with each other, from Skoufa toward the National Garden, the British Council to Patriarchou Ioakeim, and from Koumbari to the children’s corner and the pergola. Imagine the area in a few months, when the trees have sprouted new foliage and the shrubs have filled out. The design of the square incorporates greenery, rather than treating it like a mere trimming to a paved surface as it was in the past. The architects are already dreaming of the leafy alleys offering the shade of which Athens has so little. When the pavement is widened on the lower side of the square (which has been distorted by the barriers put up by the British Council) then the square will be closer to the original design. What we see now in Kolonaki is the outcome of critical thought and experience in designing public spaces. Let’s experience it and allow it to enter the life of the city, as it has already begun to do. More and more often you hear people say, «Well, I like the new Kolonaki Square.»