Kokkinou – Kourkoulas Architects shared with us their proposal in the competition for the redesign of the existing cereals stock house building facilities (SILO) and its surrounding open space into a Museum for Underwater Antiquities. This also includes the regeneration of part of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) Coastal Zone – transformation into an open public space for outdoor activities. With their main strategy based on preserving the memory and the effective wealth of the industrial past of the port, their goal is the creation of a cultural center at the western edge of the port amongst the wharfs and other industrial infrastructure. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The design places emphasis on the preservation of the specific atmosphere – a melancholia in de Chirico terms – which imbues these parts of the port, while creating an urban attraction of metropolitan interest, both for residents as well as tourists, is our explicitly stated aspiration. The relation of the environs to the sea, as well as the character of the port are the two crucial elements of the overall design.
In order to tackle the surrounding area size wise, two spatial strategies were employed. The public square and the park. The main intervention tools comprise of flooring strategies, the use of flora and the usage allocation throughout the plot. The main intervention strategy, regarding the silo as well as the museum expansion on the docks, is based upon a mass subtraction principle, distinctly opposed to an additive logic of new volumes, an approach which would undoubtedly compromise the spatial character and atmosphere of the site.
The aforementioned subtraction takes place in two distinct forms:
1. Through ellipsoid cut outs inside the massive volume of the silo, and
2. Through rectilinear cuts under the surface of the wharf.
On the first subtraction approach, regarding the exhibition halls, the attempt could be thought of as a corrosion of the concrete, both material wise as well as with regards to the strict formal geometry, volume, by means of air globules producing a cave like space. The curved cuts through the concrete diaphragms are the most efficient way to procure spaces out of the silo cells and on the same time transfer the overhead loads in a most effective manner to the supporting pillars.
The resulting voids offer an unconventional spatial experience in tune with underwater feelings of suspension, while retaining and enhancing aspects of the existing cell storage mechanism. The spaces are bestowed an inscrutable character and the visitors are presented with an almost bodily underwater experience.
Architecture affects the senses through the recovery of elements such as light, water, air and the very physical matter of the world in general. In our proposal the ellipsoid cut outs through the storage cells, in conjunction to the vertical flow of light inwards to the exhibition globules or caves, create a seabed experience. The waters breaking on the dock hum through the structures in a most effective manner.
The public square – in the tradition of Giorgio de Chirico – and the park embody two different spatial qualities which at the same time act as limit and connection between the urban grid the seafront. All these moves attempt to formulate and establish a unique experience and a special character for the silo seafront.
Architects Maria Kokkinou, Andreas Kourkoulas
Location: Port of Piraeus, Greece
Consultant Architect: John Peponis
Associate Architect: Nicholas Paplomatas
Assistant Architects: George Iliadis, Menelaos Kokkinos, Tassos Ringas, Marianna Lizardou, Eva Alberini, George Nikopoulos
Structural Engineer: Sania Kirpotin
Mechanical – Electrical Engineer: P. & H. Argyros
Landscape Architects: Helli Pagkalou & Associates
Artist: George Hadzimichalis, Project: Lighthouses of the Aegean 2003
Use: Museum for Underwater Antiquities and Park
Materials: Exposed Concrete, Metal
Area: 13,000 sq.m.