In Athens you do not get more Greek or real for that matter, than the district of Piraeus which lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf. The people, the architecture, the cuisine, the air is all 100% Greek with a nostalgia of what was. The was being men in their vest suits, hats and ‘shipping’ driving around in their open top classics around the port, the women walking alongside the streets wearing pencil skirts, white elbow gloves while carrying parcels with bows and the architecture which was solid, timeless and priceless. Unfortunately time has not been good to many of these gems leaving them neglected and abandoned, but surely a diamond in the rough.
One such rough diamond was a 310sqm neoclassical private residence. Originally built for the French Councilor, this residence is a fine example of a typical Landmark Piraeus building. The architecture practice ASKarchitects co-founded by the Greek architect Stella Konstantinidis, was approached in 2007 with a brief to renovate the existing landmark while introducing a new built extension penthouse opening up the green roof. For this project, outmost care and sensitivity was paid to the historic values of the structure. New life has been introduced without forgetting about those that have gone by.
The finished residence consists of a four-story building with the new built section consisting of 90sqm. The aim was to create an open plan residence to house a family of four. The building was stripped to its bare bones and minor but effective interventions were applied to reinforce the original structure. All interior walls were demolished and replaced with sliding doors/walls for flexible living. The most flexible being the timeless old world courtyard reminiscent of the former days of outside neighborhood chit- chat now with over scaled glazed doors giving/retaining the sense of the endless height now bestowing a point of contact to all boundaries of the daily life. As the architect herself puts it ‘this courtyard area has become the lungs of the house’.
One of this residence’s most dominant features is of course the original staircase. A feature which takes your breath away, while your mind travels to another world. Dramatic, playful, romantic and fierce is a combination of the words that are difficult to coincide together when describing a single feature. Piraeus does that to you. This, in combination with the tiled flooring and the original glazed design has an absolute element of old meets new. In this landmark, casts were made from all the original details and every little detail was brought to life again. The journey here commences from the ground floor with the courtyard, stonework and 19th century walls to the 1930’s upper floor leading to the contemporary new built extension penthouse.
The sensitivity of this revival is one great success. This 'Grand Dame' is ageless and like all timeless broads, beauty and grit is from within.