T.A. Gargavanis, I.A. Antonopoulou, V. Bania
Mechanical engineering: A. Tsiboukis, S. Ziogas
The two-storey building in which the Linto Organisation is housed, is a typical display of urban architecture of the 50’s. It is located on the pedestrian part of Venizelou street in Larissa, opposite the town’s impressive Ancient Theatre.
It was built in 1957 with the purpose of being used as a hotel, while on the ground floor spaces there were, and still are, commercial shops. The name “Linto” was probably chosen in order for the new building to bear a cosmopolitan aura, like the one already existing in several areas of Greece, as a result of the unprecedented, at that time, development of tourism.
However, the last decades, the hotel was almost abandoned to its fate, as well as the major part of the building, which had not been restored for more than half a century. Its only maintenance consisted of bad quality consecutive paintings of the exterior and the interior. The aim of this renovation was to convert the former hotel into a multi-purpose art venue while preserving its architectural identity.
The faces of the building are made of bush hammered cement mortar (named ‘artificiel’ -αρτιφισιέλ- in greek), a technique that was very popular in Greece over the past decades. In order to achieve it, a cement-based plaster of natural materials was applied on the masonry, the texture of which would be formed by each craftsman using a special hammer-like tool.
When we were handed the building, its original faces were largely altered. The beautiful, rough surface of the ‘artificiel’ technique was covered with several layers of synthetic colours and pollutants. This resulted to an alteration of the aesthetic identity of a building, which, in any other case, given its location but also its age, could be a landmark of Larissa city centre.
The architectural study and the interventions carried out, aimed at the restoration of the whole of the exterior masonry into its original form. Once scaffolds were placed, the faces were cleaned with pressure washing, without the use of chemical substances. Gradually, following two weeks of constant work, all colouring layers were removed and the impressively white hewn cement mortar surfaced.
The existing windows and balcony door frames were ground and painted, while the old casings were replaced by new, wooden, double glass panes that meet the modern environmental requirements for energy saving. Meanwhile, for the indoor floors, we proposed the preservation of the mark by old walls that were demolished and dismantled in order for the building to respond to its new use.
Thus, while in the interior spaces the beige mosaic was preserved, a white mosaic was placed on the gap created by old masonries. As a result, in the space the major part of the old plan view is easily perceptible, back when the building would function as a hotel. Lastly, a lighting study was carried out for the efficient enhancement of the building during evening hours but also for better signage of the entrance by Ifestou street.
photos by G. Sfakianakis