NEWS

Refurbishment, the big challenge for Piraeus

The Greek Chemical Products and Fertilizer Company in Drapetsona is one of the most characteristic examples of late industrial architecture in Greece. It went into operation in 1910, and closed definitively in 1999, after a number of ups and downs. Demolition began in stages in 1995, and was completed this year. Still standing are those buildings that have been listed for preservation: eight silos (which the plan proposes to make into a cultural center), the chimney, the glassworks, the Public Power Corporation substation and the slaughterhouse on the bay. When the factory closed, many experts recommended preserving the majority of the buildings and turning them into a center for the sciences and arts, along the lines of the multipurpose venue in Lavrion. «The old complex included very interesting buildings and it is a crime that they didn’t preserve them. The area should not have become tabula rasa,» Yiannis Polyzos, head of the Urban Environment Workshop at the National Technical University told Kathimerini. «It is the best piece of land left in the Attica basin. The refurbishment of the area from the port of Piraeus to Perama will be one of the biggest challenges for the capital in the next few years.» Reversing decline The project is an attempt to reverse the decline of Piraeus. «Piraeus has been steadily losing jobs and population for the past 30 years, while Drapetsona and Keratsini have only turned the trend around in the past decade,» Pavlos Loukakis, emeritus professor at Panteion University, told Kathimerini. «This trend will continue due to the weakening of the port of Piraeus by that of Lavrion. It will be difficult to attract businesses. This type of building development will determine whether the entire seafront is upgraded.» «The reacquisition of land in the city is the biggest battle now for large European cities,» architect Andreas Kourkoulas told Kathimerini. «Similar steps in Paris and Barcelona have brought about new balances. The investment in the fertilizer factory site is a significant strategic move. The owners and the state must work out how to balance development and business with improving local conditions. The entire zone as far as Perama will gradually be reclaimed by the city. If this venture fails, it will block the rejuvenation process in the area; if it succeeds, it will create new dynamism.»