New Office Building Vasilissis Sophias 23 in central Athens 1989-1992 (Housing from early on, the Embassy of Norway)

An office building in a most prime location in central Athens where commercial activity was not permissible, but prestigious office space was highly sought after. The project was already on-going in desperate schematic design cycles, when the architect advised the clients which insisted on asymmetrical proposals with unified ground-floor space and lateral entrance, that this was not a wise restriction to be imposed on the specific project and a central entrance should be explored instead. Gaining permission for this, the current elevation design was proposed and was accepted by all.

The volumetric contour of the building already strictly imposed by existing building regulations, with no means for any reduction of the buildable volume in this prime real-estate location, dictated the aesthetic  elimination of the 5th, 6th and also 7th floors in recess, clumsily protruding from the neighbouring building volume by introducing a reflective curtain wall to merge into the mostly blue Attica sky, with appropriate merging of the curtain walls with similar repetition of materials in the lower part of the building.

A very  specific complex square window was devised that was first used in this particular building, enabling innovative and unconventional subdivision of the marble veneer cladding of the building, in conjunction with quite prototypical finishing of the marble facades with specially prescribed marble pieces containing smooth curves not only around the sculpted elevation openings but also in every plane intersection. Essentially this was a jewel box finishing approach in a complete 120 cm deep zone from the front level of the façade.

The side of the building overlooking a different property that was to be built  later but which still happens to remain partly  exposed due to the position of the later-built neighbouring building was consistently treated to clearly accentuate the volumetric structure of the building. The interiors were treated consistently to the extent that the conditions permitted, but this happily includes the most critical entrance area. Three basement car-parking levels are accessible in this narrow plot by a lift, placed laterally. The garden was designed by the architect with glauca-purple and variegate foliage, matching the colours of the building, while remaining elements from the pre-existing and long ago demolished neo-classical Syriotis mansion at this location were augmented by replicas and railings of the architect’s innovative design, to conform to increased security requirements in this location.

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