Greek modernism and more celebrated at the first Athens Design Forum
Athens First Design Forum invites visitors inside one of the works of Greek modernist Aristomenis Provelengios – the current home of architect Dionisis Sotovikis
Representative of Greek modernism, the architect and town planner Aristomenis Provelengios (1914 – 1999) is a renowned figure on the Greek architectural scene. Having worked in Le Corbusier’s office in Paris, he is one of the architects who helped bring Modernist architecture to Greece, and several of his buildings are celebrated, still standing in Athens to this day. One of them, a relatively compact house in the downtown district of Kypseli, is now the home of contemporary architect Dionisis Sotovikis – and one of the key sites to visit during the inaugural Design Forum of Athens this fall.
A piece of Greek modernist history
Sotovikis acquired the building (originally established as an artist’s studio in 1956) in 2007, saving it from demolition. He operated a gallery in the space until 2013, when he converted it into his own home and workspace – still using it occasionally for exhibitions. “The house is one of the finest examples of modernism and an important part of modern Greek architectural heritage, unique and different from other similar samples, due to its proximity to the human scale,” he explains. The studio building is relatively small, built in the courtyard of the artist’s adjacent residence, which dates from 1928.
The transformation of the building by Sotovikis into a domestic space was guided by a very light touch. “Nothing has been changed, apart from the renovation of all mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering installations and the revelation of the original colors applied by the architect to the window frames and old doors, in an attempt to “take time off,” says Sotovikis. “The house is an important part of the story I want to tell about the ‘construction time’ and the connection between the past and the future.
While the project has been occasionally opened to the public during the Athens Open Day events, its participation in the very first Athens Design Forum is a crucial step in making Athens’ modernist heritage more visible and accessible to all. And Sotovikis has more in store for the future. ‘[It’s still] too early to reveal [my plans], but suffice it to say that it will be transformed into some kind of museum in the future, ”he says.
The architect, director of his eponymous firm, Atelier Dionisis Sotovikis, regularly draws inspiration from Modernist teachings, having designed a multitude of residences featuring bare concrete, clean and minimalist lines and emphasizing functionality. Others are underway, from a three-story private residence in Koukaki to a five-star hotel in Milos (Milos Cove) and a new hotel in Naxos.
Athens Design Forum
Being part of the first Athens Design Forum is a chance to meet and collaborate “with new people, through events that bring us closer to the public, showcasing everything we love to do,” says Sotovikis. The non-profit event, the first of its kind, aims to celebrate Greek design and architecture through a series of exhibitions, seminars, workshops and archival studies that showcase creativity from the country to Athens and beyond. From September 30 to October 7, 2021, the festival is supported by the city of Athens, the Behrakis Foundation and design guide The Design Release.
“The first edition of the Athens Design Forum brings together visionaries whose mission is to amplify the region’s diverse history – by connecting larger institutions such as the Benaki Museum in dialogue with initiatives led by designers by KN Group X Stamos Michael. We are a platform that aims to unify and mark Athens as an emerging and historically established center of creative production, ”said Forum founder Katerina Papanikolopoulos.
Other highlights of the Athens Design Forum include a visit to Papagos House – the private residence and studio of iconic Greek painter Alekos Fassianos, which will be open to the public for the very first time – and a tour of workshop with emerging local designer Kostas Lambridis. §