The client, a private non-profit company, founded to promote young applied arts professionals, asked us to transform a typical commercial unit in downtown Athens, into a multi-purpose venue; an urban hub for emerging artists to connect, produce and showcase their work.
We envisaged a rectangular concrete container; a schema spatially reinforcing collective identity. A horizontal wooden slab, wedged between the sides, disrupts the apparent continuity of space, albeit only provisionally. Open to both ends, for physical and visual connection between inside and outside, the container forms a sectional extrusion; sequentially framing spatial experience.
Access is through the front. An all-glass frontage maintains continuity to the street scene. The exhibition space spans linearly across the ground floor. Lighting, rigging, picture hanging, audio visual and HVAC systems are tucked away around the perimeter. The interior volume, initially low height under the mezzanine, reveals gradually its full height. At the rear end, a custom made louver system, theatrically filters natural and artificial light, inciting a pause. Adjacent programme includes a bar, WC, and small urban garden with storage shed. At mezzanine level, office, meeting and creative space, is displayed in full view and accessed by stairs. Archive and IT facilities are kept in a separate room.
Concrete (polished concrete floor, exposed concrete ceiling, MgO boards) is used exclusively for the envelope. Wood (oriented strand boards/ OSB) for cladding protruding elements such as the mezzanine, cantilevered steps, work benches and stools. Metal (sheet metal) for constructing the bar, louver system, lower part of staircase, WC sink and dividers. Glass (plate glass, U-shaped cast glass, glass blocks) for the façade, rear wall openings, mezzanine balustrade and partitions.
Formal vocabularies (material palette, detailing) and informal vocabularies (patina, re-use, low-cost selection of materials) trace past uses of the site while, at the same time, articulating a space of empowerment.