A nature and history network to boost development

The villa of Karanikolos was a country house built on Italian lines and the estate is densely planted with age-old trees and stands of Washington pines. The authors of the restoration study – architects Amalia Kotsaki and Maria Sifaki, civil engineer Haris Gantes, engineer Efstratios Asimomitis, and civil engineer Vassilis Kanellopoulos, who is technical adviser to SKOS – have designed a model modern study center and museum that respects the existing architecture and natural surroundings. Implementation seems unlikely, however, as the project appears to have been blocked ever since a changeover in the administration of SKOS. The design includes exhibition spaces where there will be displays on the history of the currant trade, the part it played in the economy of the Peloponnese and the formation of the middle class, the currant dispute and its socioeconomic consequences. There will also be a library and a multimedia room. Discreet new buildings will house a guard’s residence, a manager’s office and work shed. Italian air One of the initial aims of SKOS was to create an attraction related to the currant trade that would also be a point of contact with rural culture and the rare vegetation of the area. As Kotsaki notes, the Karanikolos Villa is close to popular destinations in Ileia, such as Ancient Olympia, Loutra Kaiafa and Killini, and so it fits into a nature and history network that could contribute to the economic and cultural development of the prefecture and area. Nearby is the fine winery of Ktima Merkouri and other smaller buildings which still preserve intact the image of an unspoiled environment of great charm. Though the villa has been left to rot, the damage is not irreversible. What is needed is to activate the earlier decision which already has Culture Ministry approval. At least the Patras Ephorate of Modern Monuments has taken the initiative of installing a metal roof, which has helped keep the walls and some parts of the building in a reasonable state of repair. The name of the architect who designed the villa is not known, though some claim it is the work of Ernst Ziller (who was active in Patras, Pyrgos and Corinth), but Kotsaki claims it is by «an Italian architect influenced by the architecture of Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554) and Tuscan buildings of this type.» This Italian atmosphere, apparent not only in the style of the villa but also in the philosophy of an estate (with its nucleus of middle-class life in a rural settlement), seems to have permeated Greece in an unexpectedly interesting and complex way.