The Piraeus Tower / Aristide Antonas


We had published before several projects by Greek architect Aristide Antonas. Now, he’s sharing with us his project for the Piraeus Tower 2010 competition, that was looking for a fictional new facade of the Piraeus Tower.

More images and architect’s description after the break.

© Aristide Antonas

From the competition statements:

The initiative of our architectural ideas competitions is the localization of urban issues at vital points of Greek cities and the attempt to resolve them through Architecture, presenting to the citizens and State the real proportion of Architecture in the real urban space.

For all the above, a Tall Building at the port of Piraeus that is abandoned for more than 30 years was located. It is a 22-storey building, 84 m. tall and it is known as “Piraeus Tower”. The only tower of the area is “sleeping” in one of the bigger ports of the Mediterranean that presents a dynamic growth at the last decades. The competition is focused only at the reconstruction of the external façade of the building in order to set off a synectic and clear position regarding the conversation of the Tower with the Piraeus urban landscape and how this new “facade” takes part in and partially forms the relation between the Port, as an important entrance and exit point of the capital, and the urban complex of Athens.

© Aristide Antonas

With these tasks in mind, Antonas with the collaboration of Katerina Koutsogianni presented their project, which was part of the 69 projects selected for the second phase. Here is their text and images:

The question for an architect who deals with a special symbol such as the Tower of Piraeus is not only how to build an impressive skin for an old construction. The challenge is to correspond to the particular condition of the Tower and to its history. The challenge is to face the contemporary international scene of Architecture and, in the same time, address the specificity of the local situation concerning the particular tower in Piraeus. We use to believe that the towers are symbols of power and strength. The sole management of such a tower as a symbol of power, in the case of the Tower of Piraeus, would be the result of a naive decision. The power of a bright, newly built work is no longer a manageable probability concerning this particular Tower.

© Aristide Antonas

The Piraeus Tower will necessarily present a retrofitted packaging of an old construction, a revisited building that will always refer to an existing structure and its past, already registered in ’s history in many ways. The Tower of Piraeus is a living monument of cancellation. It would be careless thus for any architectonic elaboration to result a deletion of this well known past. What goes unnoticed, but has particular relevance today is that in the particular circumstances of the current architectural scene, reuse is an important value that can be handled in various ways. The itima thus posed by the current architecture is not how to make the tower a potential new building but rather how to construct a contemporary reused Tower as a monument of cancellation. As such monument cancellation the Tower is reinstalled in the port with more local oddity. This simple observation serves as a starting point for this proposal. The presentation of cancellation rules the treatment of the modern ruin. Covering an interesting old concrete frame with an indifferent skin is a move that would only repeat the large advertising surfaces that hide the structure of the tower over so many decades.

© Aristide Antonas

The notion of cancellation is a concept that calls for a particular architecture, and it will be wrong to abandon it, dressing up the tower with a shiny new dress as if the Tower of Piraeus Tower had no other story. The Tower of Piraeus does not need a fake new elevation. Deleting the small, interesting story of the Tower without interpreting would be a simple erasure of the narrative, an end to something that still speaks to many of us as a particular, built literature piece. The relationship to this local history and the nature of an intervention manipulating this history and incompleteness would interest more the current scene of architecture, offering (instead of failed experiments and anti-ecological emblems of Asia), a design based on reuse of existing structure with existing waste materials. Such materials (as recently wrote Rem Koolhaas) give the most interesting dynamics in the contemporary condition of architecture. The reflection for a new Tower of Piraeus, should propose a treatment of a prematurely ruined, unfinished building.

The building’s role as a modern ruin will have to deal with a necessary partial presentation of its construction skeleton.

© Aristide Antonas

It is through this argumentation that the central front of the Tower is lined with transparent DuPont ™ Corian glass-like structures. The intention is to show the old construction in its purest, functional form. The elevation is important to cover with Corian phased to the extent possible any picture frame. The management of transparency in the the elevation materials will assume the translation and the graduation of a rigid concept.

The surfaces of the built basis of the Tower are now cleaned, wooden covered in two sides, the upper and western (we can again consider the use of wood from the remnants of old abandoned wooden boats) and 3 other surfaces of the bottom prism of the Tower will be lined with Corian, constructed this time as a light-curtain waterfall. The enclosed prism at the bottom of the tower serves as a more solid basis of the high construction; it also produces a harder limit to the city organizing a better protected commercial center that can operate with the use of its peripheral alleys and through the strong axis of the ground floor.

You can see the 69 entries selected for the second phase, here.

Architect: Aristide Antonas
Collaborator: Katerina Koutsogianni

Cite: Baraona Pohl, Ethel. "The Piraeus Tower / Aristide Antonas" 16 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • INawe

    “here” link to other competition entries do not work.

    • Sebastian J

      Sorry about that. It’s now fixed.

  • Albert

    Very depressing. In it’s present situation Greece might use something more cheerful or optimistic.

    Might stay as it is with no facade at all…

  • ozmoto

    When buildings start looking like video game architecture… the end of the world is truly near.

    • hZ!

      dystopian. quite apt

    • FLW

      I think this architectural movement it totally appropriate of our time,
      I grew up playing Atari games therefore my design language is highly inspired by them

    • nonono

      I don’t understand the point and logic of your comment

      • ozmoto

        There is no point or logic…. it’s called humor.

        However it did draw out your lack of it.

      • nonono

        ahh… since when humor become illogical and pointless?

  • Ulises

    Maybe this buildings is not as beautiful and chic as parametric skins populating all the world around. But has a very natural sense, it´s about thinking, it´s about a further developing of ideas for philosophical cuestions. But sincerily i think there could be more interesting to let the building as it is. The main problem is not the significance, is the lacking of life. Again in the terms of a competition, the vision is about superficial things.

    Best regards.

  • Luis

    The perspective of the 1st render is very bad!! =/

    The image itself lacks vitality, its very “dark” and “sad”, just like a very old building..

  • anto

    The last thing pireus needs is this depressing project… just demolish this thing

  • Joao Capote

    I agree with the arguments. A tower as a typology has it’s recognition, it’s memory, it’s history and this particular one must have it’s own too. So… why wrap it like that? why add so much things (that don’t even go with eachother just to prove that they have this or that material that relates to the port? Why not leave the tower live for itself as the typology and do something cheerfull about it. The result mr architec AA is very contradictory with your words and you should defenitly study some Rossi…

  • happy_hippo

    I think that they dont take the competition seriously. This is mostly a protest againist the ugly image of the greek capital rather than an effort to produce something beautiful which could revitilize the area and the building. This proposal makes a comment about the present situation and doesnt refer to the future. I am greek and it hurts me a lot saying those things but I have to be honest and realistic.