After blocks, what next?

The Athenian apartment block determined the shape of Greek cities. Its small scale, focus on function, and direct relation to street life were the positive aspects which had unexpected success in meeting the needs of postwar Greek society. Some interesting progress has been made in developing apartment blocks in the past 15 years, largely by young architects. Many of their buildings are fine examples of mature Greek modernism, typified by abstraction and marked geometrical volumes. This stands out without looking alien. However, apartment blocks were devised to serve the needs of postwar construction, and new developments in form must not obscure the fact that today’s needs are very different. Greek cities desperately need open spaces. Contemporary society has varied needs that the average apartment does not meet. And the average apartment block cannot be adapted to bioclimatic design and so is dependent on air conditioners. A radical reappraisal is needed. Already in Athens and some privileged suburbs, new approaches are being used to cater to new needs. Public acceptance will be the deciding factor as to how housing models develop. Panos Dragonas is an architect and assistant professor at Patras University.

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