Healing the festering wound of the old Fix factory on Syngrou

The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), currently housed in the new wing of the Athens Concert Hall, had good news at the very end of a worrying 2004. Just before New Year, the contract with the architects who won the competition to rebuild it was signed, at last resolving a troublesome matter. This paved the way for rebuilding the Fix factory on Syngrou Avenue. The ruined brewery, much of it demolished during construction of the Athens metro system, has been made available for 50 years by the Culture Ministry to house the EMST. The first prize in the competition went to the architecture firms of 3SK Stylianidis, Tim Ronalds, and I. Mouzakis & Colleagues. The delay in signing the contract was attributed to the administrative gap in the museum until November. Rumors that Attiko Metro, the owner of the building, had lodged claims against the museum have been denied. A large car park and transit point has been built underneath the Syngrou-Fix station and is scheduled to go into operation this year. «Now that the contract has been signed, we are working toward our initial target, which is still 2007,» Costas Sionis of 3SK Stylianidis Architects told Kathimerini. Sionis categorically denies the rumors of unresolved disputes with Attiko Metro: «Right now we are working on the final study and various questions are being examined so that we can proceed to the implementation study. With matters as they stand, we may have a contractor by the end of the year.» The apparently smooth progress in the reconstruction of the Fix premises will heal a wound on Syngrou Avenue that has festered for more than four decades. More than that, it marks a new epoch for this important Athenian boulevard, whose image has been continually enhanced in recent years through large-scale projects. It is no coincidence that the House of Letters and Arts being built by the Alexandros S. Onassis Foundation on their own plot of land near the Panteion University will be inaugurated in the same year as the EMST. The building, designed by the French firm Architecture Studio, promises to be an impressive sight, sheathed in a double veil of glass. Syngrou has been lucky in recent years to see dynamic development combined with high-quality architectural work, not something that can be taken for granted in Athens. Right next to the Onassis construction site, work is under way to complete the new premises of Ethniki Insurance, the work of internationally renowned Swiss-Italian architect Mario Bota, who is collaborating with Rena Sakellaridou and Morpho Papanikolaou. Completing the new streetscape, in between the House of Letters and Arts and the Ledra Marriott Hotel, will be the first multiplex cinema on Syngrou, operated by the Odeon company. In all probability it will not be the only one: Sources say that Village Roadshow is talking about the possibility of buying Diogenes Palace for conversion into a multiplex.

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