Designing a new Museum at the entrance of Piraeus Port: a cultural intervention in a heavy-duty commercial and passenger harbor

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In the middle of one of the harsher economic crisis ever met by Greece and Europe in general, the port of Piraeus decides to make a decisive step forward. Within the terms of a general master plan of 18 hectares’ area, the Piraeus Port Authority organized an international competition, inviting architects to redesign the coastal zone and to transform an existing industrial building into a Museum for Underwater Antiquities.
The first award proposal aims to restore the broken relationship between the city and the sea and redefine the public activity in the area of the harbor. Acknowledging the hovering position of the coast between land and water, urban and marine landscape, local and supralocal character, the study suggests recreational and cultural uses of various qualities and references, in order to change the harbors’ image.
The new Museum, part of a broader cultural neighborhood foreseen, will offer a complete tour through the history of the relation of man with the sea in Greece and the Mediterranean, accommodated in facilities of total 15.000 sq. meters. Hosted in an emblematic huge cereals’ stock house situated at the very entrance of the harbor, the museum is called to enhance the existing buildings’ role as an important landmark and to invite the locals as well as the tourists. Modern architectural forms converse with the industrial typology of the ‘30s and reflect outwards the new function. The stern introvert “machine-building” of the past, reclaims the contact with the public space, while the human scale and social activity gets restored.

Evangelos Antonopoulos is an architect, born and raised in Athens, Greece. He has studied in “Academie Royale des Beaux Arts, Institute d’architecture Victor Horta” in Brussels and gratuated from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA).Since 1985 he collaborated with several architectural firms, as well as private practicing as industrial & art designer and architectural models’ constructor.
Thalia Vetta is an architect, also born and raised in Athens. She graduated from the National Technical University of Athens and has been practicing architecture since 1990.
Since 2006 they are both founding members of the architectural office “ARK2” and also members and shareholders of the architectural department of the “OTM SA” engineering consultants’ firm. They undertake small and large scale architectural and urban development projects, from private as well as public clients. The offices’ activity is mainly in Greece and has specialized in designing special industrial facilities, landscape and building design for road and tunnel constructions, as long as designing Metro stations.
In October 2012 they participated with a team of fellow architects, in the international architectural competition for the design of underwater antiquities’ Museum and the regeneration of the coastal zone of Piraeus Port and won the first prize. The project is to be concluded by 2017.

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