NEWS

Akrotiri to reopen in a year

SANTORINI – Two internationally renowned design firms are expected to present their plans for reconstructing the collapsed section of shelter roof over the Akrotiri archaeological site within the next three months, ending months of delays. Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has personally appealed to all concerned to overcome the problems. Meanwhile, experts are preparing to present a report to the Naxos prosecutor’s office on the causes of the collapse in September last year, when a male tourist was killed and six people injured after parts of the 1,000-square-meter shelter fell when workers were watering soil on the roof. Barring any further complications, the site should be ready to open to the public again in the fall of 2007 with a new roof. The consortium building the bioclimatic roof (J&P-ABAX-Impregilo-Embedos) has commissioned Ove Arup to design the reconstruction and Atkins to monitor the design once it is completed. These two firms, both based in Britain, are active in over 100 countries and are considered particularly reputable and leaders in their fields. Consortium officials told Kathimerini that initial talks with the two firms began about six months ago. Teams from both firms have visited the site and have recently been briefed on the technical aspects of the project. According to the consortium’s head architect Nikos Fintikakis, the design is to be submitted this month to the Archaeology Association’s technical adviser. «All being well, the new roof over the site should be ready in October of next year,» said Fintikakis. Voulgarakis recently chaired a meeting of ministry officials, consortium representatives and members of the Archaeological Association asking for full cooperation in overcoming problems and promising to monitor the rate of progress personally. The committee of experts investigating the accident that led to the death of British tourist Richard Bennion and the injury of six other people is expected to have reached its conclusions by the end of the summer. «Fortunately the only damage to the antiquities is restricted to the tops of walls and buildings around Triangle Square,» said Professor Christos Doumas, head of the excavations at Akrotiri. «More serious damage was sustained by the internal walls of Complex B, where a storeroom was found full of pots. There was minor damage in the Western House, one of the best preserved buildings in the settlement.»