The Onassis Cultural Centre is one of the most dynamic arts spaces in Athens. Its aim is to make contemporary culture accessible to everyone. Our redesign of the organisation’s head office (the prize-winning design in an architectural competition by invitation) is an expression of this openness. Tectonic architecture, which reveals all the elements of a building’s construction, is a clear metaphor for an organisation dedicated to artistic collaboration and creative expression.
We stripped the building facade back to its basic elements; slabs and posts. This strict geometry is softened by the addition of a ‘forest’ of bamboo poles, placed at irregular intervals to provide moments of shelter or privacy. The spaces in between open up the building to the city, reflecting the organisation’s vitality and transparency. Plants growing up the facade suggest a place where ideas can flourish organically. As the plants grow, the building’s appearance will change, just like the wealth of ideas within. This linear vertical garden also serves as a visual counterpoint for the Onassis Cultural Centre across the street, which is encased in a horizontal grid of marble slats. More informal, our building is like a dress rehearsal for the main event.