Video wall may save historic Athens buildings

Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:59pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters Life!) - A huge video wall may save two historic buildings threatened with demolition for blocking the view of Greece's new Acropolis Museum, architects say.

Greek architects came up with hundreds of ideas to save the two landmarks, which stand in front of the new museum, due to open this week and expected to give new impetus to Greece's efforts to bring home the Parthenon marbles from Britain.

"These buildings should not be demolished because they are priceless, they are part of one of the most beautiful streets in Athens," architect Thomas Doxiades, told Reuters on Tuesday. "A street is like a smile. When teeth are removed, empty spaces ruin its beauty."

Residents, artists and politicians have protested a Culture Ministry decision to demolish them and the case is being examined by a top court, which may overrule the ministry.

Weeks before the inauguration of the new museum which has been plagued by legal battles and missed deadlines, Greece's Culture Minister Antonis Samaras, proposed to move the facades of the buildings to nearby plots, but architects said the landmarks also form a unity.

One of the buildings is hailed as a prime example of art deco in Athens, designed by an award-winning Greek architect, and boasts statues and mosaics on its facade.

The other, neo-classical building on the pedestrian street which surrounds about half of the Acropolis, belongs to music composer Vangelis Papathanasiou, of Chariots of Fire fame.

Greek architects took part in a national competition organized by e-magazine and came up with ideas that would preserve the buildings without allowing their unattractive backs ruin the museum's view of the Acropolis.   Continued...

<p>A general view of the new Acropolis museum in Athens May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>