Facelift could save landmarks

Dozens of Greek and foreign architects have responded to a bid by local experts to provide a «facelift» to two historic buildings on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street which face demolition as they partially obstruct the view of the Parthenon from the New Acropolis Museum. Some 172 participants have already registered their interest in «aesthetically enhancing» the rears of the two listed buildings. These include eminent professionals, such as Stephen Antonakos and Francois Loyer. Local architectural firm Doxiadis+ has come up with one of the most inspired proposals. It envisages the use of screens made of natural materials, which would cover the back of the buildings, and the planting of trees in front of these screens and on a plot next to the museum. An alternative is the creation of «vertical gardens» of the type that botanist Patrick Blanc has used to inject a dose of green into many parts of urban France and several major cities worldwide. Meanwhile, petitions for the protection of the two buildings – a treasured art deco structure at No 17 and a fine example of mature neoclassical architecture at No 19 – have gathered in excess of 22,000 signatures. The art deco building has attracted the most public attention due to its uniqueness but there is also strong support for the protection of the adjacent structure which belongs to composer Vangelis Papathanassiou. A spokesperson for the owners of No 17 – the art deco building – said the petitioners had nothing against the New Acropolis Museum but could not see why its presence should dictate the two buildings’ demolition. «We simply claim that both can coexist,» Marina Kouremenou-Flegga told Kathimerini. Culture Minister Michalis Liapis has yet to speak out publicly on the issue.