Renzo Piano presents design for Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

One of the world’s largest philanthropic organisations is soon to relocate into a new waterfront home in Athens, Greece. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and presented by the globally-renowned lead architect at a press conference today, the new base of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) comprises an opera house for the Greek National Opera, a generous Stavros Niarchos Park, and a new headquarters for the National Library of Greece.

Covering 85% of the site, the Stavros Niarchos Park will become one of the largest green spaces in Athens, spreading across 170,000 sq m of space and stretching up a 32m-high slope over the main SNFCC building to form a green roof. Visitors to the complex will be able to enjoy scenic views out across the Athens waterfront and the Acropolis through an immense glass wall within the Reading Room which looks to ‘facilitate the visual connection between sea and city - past, present and future’.

The National Library and Greek National Opera buildings have been fused together by a fluid glass volume which offers a social environment for users to meet before entering the separate entities. Challenging musicals, ballets, concerts and solo performances will be held within the Opera building while the hushed internal space of the Library is defined by an ‘iconographic’ wall of books.

It is without doubt that the SNFCC will become a positive attribute to Athens and indeed to Greece, as the €566m scheme will be the first public-private partnership of its kind in the country and on completion will be fully operated and controlled by the State. An economic and social impact study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (commissioned by the SNF) suggested that the total economic stimulus derived from the upfront investment in the construction process will be €1bn, whilst the combined effects of operations and visitor spending associated with the SNFCC activities will generate around €160m each year.

Speaking at today’s press conference, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said: “The project is very important in terms of aspirations for Greece and its people, especially during this difficult economic period. The SNFCC symbolises progress, development and innovation, but it is also a transformational project, with significant environmental, educational, cultural, economic, social, and civic consequences.”


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