ARCHITECTURE

Project:
Museum for Underwater Antiquities and Piraeus Cultural Coast Masterplan, Piraeus, Athens, Greece

Date:
February 2013

Status:
Competition

Client:
Piraeus Port Authority (PPA)

Awards:
1st Honourable Mention

The Building, A Lighthouse for Culture
By carefully analysing the intervention site, we realized that by its scale, location and verticality, the building of the old cereal stock-house arises as the main geographical reference in this area of the Piraeus port. Its tower and longitudinal deployment along the peninsula axis, which constitutes the main part of the intervention area, makes it the great gateway into the harbour, the welcome card to passengers arriving to Athens on ship cruises from around the Mediterranean.
The start point for the project development rises exactly from this idea of welcome, the element that defines the arrival, the light that guides and indicates that land is just a few miles away, a metaphor of a lighthouse, like the great lighthouses of antiquity that fed some of the most beautiful Mediterranean mythologies.
The Museum of Underwater Antiquities, henceforth the MoUA, revives the old silo by transforming it into a lighthouse for culture. The cereal grains are replaced by the most precious underwater treasures, and the compact mass of concrete becomes a big bulb that announces the arrival at the cradle of Western civilization.

The peninsula, a memory of an industrial past
Observing a satellite image of the urban fabric that surrounds the intervention area, we’ve noticed that the orthogonal net of Piraeus and Drapetsona seems to dewater at the harbour’s peninsula. The rational geometry of resolute streets and blocks, becomes a draped organic net when it meets the avenue that separates the city from the harbour (Akti Ietionia).
When approaching the image, focusing on the ​​interventionsite, we found that this organic design is enhanced by a series of micro lines drawn on the pavement by the movement of trucks, the orientation of cargo containers, and by the roofs of the warehouses that are expected to be redesigned.
It’s from this industrial matrix, engraved on the pavement for more than a century, that lays our masterplan design. The tracks marked by the wheels of the trucks are transformed into footpaths, watercourses and fields of flowers; the avenue that divides the peninsula becomes a big mall that serves the new equipment; cargo containers give way to others which now function as cafes, terraces, bars and shops; former parking acquire contours of squares and plazas, and the large green patch defined by the Drapestona park and the archaeological site dilute in all these new decks, similar to what happens to the Cartesian drawing of the surrounding city.
A new park grows, such as other small gardens, squares and large assembly spaces that invite citizens to culture, trying not to forget the industrial memory of the place, designed by the wheel of time.