CONTEXT The urban landscape of the city of Pireaus is old, composite and zipped up. The Pireaus tower is standing next to the sea port and marks the edge of the city, Pireaus. The tower is surrounded by heavy traffic roads, with all the transitions around seeming naked and exposed and pushed up against each other. Low rise almost pebble like white blocks, located in the vicinity, make a contrast to the huge silvery smoke stacks from the embarked ship.
This tower is a reference point in all the visual approaches to the Port of Pireaus. This characteristic external environment has led us to imagine a symbolic chameleon building, designed not to make the existing one disappear but rather to wrap it to express the changing perception of it. CONCEPT The modified tower is a semi-transparent structure made to let the air flow into it. The proposal operates in terms of solids and voids, combining transparency and reflection, brightness and depth. The wire gauze, which the built volume is sheltered in, appears or disappears according to the orientation of the sunlight or to nocturnal illumination of the tower. The variation in the presence or absence of this metallic skin acts like a lighthouse that sweeps the pathway leading to its surroundings. The function of the metallic mesh is reversed – it does not enclose space but visually frees it and makes space available beyond the obvious use of classic transparent materials. Moreover, the facade is no longer the limit; it is a transitory point. From a functional point of view the metallic filter provides enormous comfort as a sunscreen.
The mesh is aerial and delicate; it gives way to the underlying supporting structure. The facade finds itself supported as per a grid pattern by a new under covered structure. The supporting structure is festive and is designed to provide a truly phenomenal viewpoint of the interior life of the tower. It intentionally reveals the dynamics of movement though the use of coloured linear elements that demonstrate directions and intensities in the inner part of the building. Altogether the mesh gives way to the vibrations between interior and exterior. It reveals a sensation of floating and forms an exaggeration in Pireaus urban landscape. It exists as an installation of poetry, a seemingly schematic structure which houses complex mechanisms. Overall, our driving concept is always at the base, a simple but never simplistic vision around which we built a series of actions.
MATERIALS The materials are chosen to emphasize the intricate relationship between matter and light. The sun, being a very important element of the environment in Greece, highlights this notion of the various possible interpretations of the tower’s architecture.
COATED PERFORATED METAL (DuPont ALESTA ARCHITECTURAL COATING)
Transparency becomes reversible. In daytime the metallic mesh that encloses the tower disappears and reappears through interplay with natural light and reflection. The immersion into the night of the metallic mesh wrap transforms the building into a light box, a potential landmark. It is both a layout device and a material with its metal grating that completely change our perception of geometry. The facade folds at the top of the building forming one continuous element. Consequently, the roof of the tower has a perforated canopy which gives an impression of a gradual transition of the building into the sky. The kinked shape of the canopy adds a dramatic effect to the building.
This material has the qualities which allow to create a frozen moment within a dynamic sequence of transformations. The sculptural interpretation of the base showcases the amazing performance of DuPont Corian and highlights its ability to modify perceptions of space and form, therefore, the base gives versatile impressions from various proximities. Specifically, it has a rather brutal rock-like appearance from distant view, alluring the coastal landscape meanwhile correlating with the pebble-like residential blocks in the area. On the other hand, the base yields a friendlier environment at a closer glimpse: an inside interaction space of an alcove shape and the different, contrasting tactility of the material itself.