Register: OCT/09/2017, Submit: OCT/09/2017, Eligibility: Young professionals up to the age of 40, architects, environmental engineers, facade engineers, artists, architecture students in the final year of studies, Fee: Free, Awards: 1st Prize 4,000 EUR, 2nd Prize 2,000 EUR, 3rd Prize 1,500 EUR, 6 Honorable Mentions
1. Looking at the contemporary Greek city from above, one gets the impression of a uniform, ashen layer, spreading over the landscape. There are two main reasons behind such uniformity: First, the limited variety of building typologies in different sizes, that could act as points of reference in the urban fabric: The Greek city is made, almost exclusively, of a singular building type – the polykatoikia. Second, the insistence on applying white mortar finishing on most facades, to the point of ubiquity: This choice is not unreasonable; mortar helps avoid overheating and is an economical solution. However, the facades cannot maintain their initial whiteness, due to air pollution and to poor maintenance.
Furthermore, this oversimplification of the urban color palette blurs the boundaries between building entities and, therefore, weakens the articulation of the built environment as a group made of elements.
2. We would say that the Greek city, as collective work of architecture, requires restructuring and escalation of its components, to become better perceptible. While issues of building scale and typological variety are too complex to deal with at once, because they belong to rooted perceptions of space in the local culture, perhaps the question of visual articulation is easier to address, with the use of a single strategy: Color.
3. Color is an element of the Greek building tradition whose importance has waned in the recent years. Today, color is mostly applied on mortar, or upon basic metal structures that cannot be left uncoated anyway. The application of paint on metal surfaces provides a vast array of possibilities for architectural expression, through resilient building components, with limited maintenance requirements.
4. Furthermore, the Greek urban façade is often deficient in functionality and energy performance (ventilation, shading): Polykatoikia balconies, reduced to inactivity due to their limited width (1m), generally become the only device of sun protection for the apartment interiors.
The use of tents is a rather uninspired, yet reasonable practice: It provides further sun protection to the inhabitants and it is consistent with the general framework of polykatoikia living. But what happens with offices, schools, hotels or other public buildings? How do architects respond to the problems of performance and appearance of the city in its different typological elements?
Clearly, there is now strong political will to upgrade the energy performance of buildings with new legislation (KENAK); the architectural expression of this intention, however, remains to be devised.
Is there a way to invent a combined attack on this double front? Energy performance upgrade through redesigning the image of the city? Can we, as scientists of the human environment, contribute to a new façade vocabulary, that will reflect the need for functional as well as aesthetically stimulating façades?
Can the architects, engineers and urban designers suggest innovative ideas for existing buildings, and improve their performance? At the same time, will they deliver an articulate architectural discourse employing new materials and colors?
We ask the participants to choose a specific building or a building typology in the Greek city they consider to fall within the problem stated (for instance, a polykatoikia, an office building, a school, a leisure facility etc.), and design a new façade that engages issues of sustainability and aesthetics.
The design research for the new façade will introduce a metal structure coated with color, supplemented by other coated metal elements (cladding or infill panels, doors, windows etc.). The argument should address issues of sustainability and convince that the new structure creates a suitable environment (sun protection, eco-friendly materials and coating), both for the building inhabitants as well as for the public at large.
We encourage the participants to form collaborations with architects, environmental engineers, facade engineers and artists; that way, the design research will be more comprehensive.
Furthermore, we ask the participants to prefer colors from the vast AKZO NOBEL inventory, as well as materials of the competition sponsors.