Monday, January 15, 2007

"National Bank of Greece" Headquarters - [Athens]

The National Bank of Greece (NBG) administration building is among the most ambitious prestige structures to be built in Athens at the dawn of the 21st century. Located in the historic centre of Athens with its strong neoclassical memories, the building occupies the corner of a significant block which includes heritage structures such as the neoclassical NBG building and the academic Athens Stock Exchange. Opposite are the eclectic Melas Building (1887, E. Ziller architect), which has been converted into the NBG’s cultural centre, and the classical modern building of the Commercial Bank of Greece.

The transparency theme led also to the creation of a grand interior void in order to accentuate the public character of the building and spatial readability.

Important findings of classical antiquity on site, registered buildings surrounding it on all sides, a complex brief and tight time-limits made this a rather demanding architectural problem. On January 1999 archaeological findings on site were re-evaluated. The original project was changed to accommodate for high transparency on the ground level to make ancient Acharniki Street visible as it crosses on the longitudinal axis the building towards Kotzia Square .

he building, with the perspective of Acropolis at the end of Eolou street , completes the corner of an important building block of the historic centre of Athens . It comprises of a basic volume, parts of which are subtracted in such a way as to maintain the readability of the primary volume. Its main elevation on Eolou street is in dialogue with the neighboring neoclassical Main Building , while the other two elevations are treated as secondary.

The building accommodates the significant activities of the Bank administration, and has a total area of 6500m2. On the first and second floor is the general assembly hall with a capacity of 400 persons, fully equipped with the most advanced audiovisual system. On the third floor are the offices of the bank’s vice-governors, and on the fourth the offices of the advisers to the vice-governors. The fifth floor houses the dining room for the Bank’s senior executives as well as areas for the library, lounge and guest quarters. On the four underground levels there are areas for parking, the machine room and storage.

Great weight has been given to the chromatic combination of the luxurious materials on the building: the exterior and interior wall facings of sand-coloured poros stone, black unpolished granite on the floors and light-coloured wood panelling on ceilings and walls. The poros stone on the façades is divided into horizontal zones that will, according to the play of light and shadow, be more or less visible.

The design by architects E. Sakellaridou, M. Papanikolaou, and M. Pollani, who had a consultant the famous Swiss-Italian architect Mario Botta, received first prize in an open architectural competition.

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