Economist-budget consultant: H. Tessas
The apartment building on 52, Patriarchou Ioakim street in Kolonaki, was built during the 30’s and is marked by several typological and stylistic features of that time. From the first time we visited the building, when we were invited to restore it, we believed that, despite the fact that to the State it is not considered as listed, we had to respect its design, which we found remarkable.
Its architectural advantages though, were not noticeable at first sight, since the building had never been restored. For instance, the bush hammered cement mortar (named ‘artificiel’ -αρτιφισιέλ- in greek), had accumulated pollutants of almost 75 years, while the ground floor was in many places covered in graffiti. Similar conditions prevailed in the building’s interior spaces as well, where the marble and wooden surfaces were scratched and ravaged by the use and the lack of maintenance.
Therefore, our choice to restore the apartment building into its initial form without adding new elements was worrying because its materials seemed corroded to such an extent that the solution we were pursuing could be unattainable. Finally, following strenuous efforts and repeated cleaning with special pressure washers and wet sandblasting on the envelope, but also through careful repairs on the marble and wooden surfaces, the result seemed to be justifying our initial decisions.
However, for the parts that were impossible to be repaired, we collaborated with art conservators who made small interventions of colour painting, in order to preserve the homogeneity of the facade and of certain interior spaces, which we found important, like the mahogany elevator.
The apartment building on 52, Patriarchou Ioakim street, besides its aesthetic result, proves once more that the most efficient intervention, on an economical and environmental level, is usually the most minimalist. At the same time, it reminds us that architecture is not only designing and adding elements, but the opposite as well; a self-restraint design attitude of non-intervention and quietness.
photos by Mariana Bisti