Located 4.5 km south of the centre of Athens and on the edge of Faliro Bay, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) is perhaps the most significant cultural, educational and environmental project undertaken in Greece, and aims to become the first LEED platinum-certified public building in the country, and one of the first, for buildings of this complexity, in Europe and in the world. In addition, the Stavros Niarchos Park is expected to double the area’s green space, making it one of the largest in Athens.
Conceived in 2006, the SNFCC is a private-public partnership and the foundation’s largest single philanthropic gift ($854 million/€617 million).
With the desire to keep the SNFCC in constant dialogue with the public until its official delivery to the state, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) announced its intention to make the SNFCC again fully accessible to the public, organising open events that will give visitors the opportunity to re-discover and enjoy the project.
The construction of the SNFCC has been officially completed and the SNF took delivery of the project this week, thus beginning the transitional phase of the delivery to the Greek state.
As a pioneering initiative, the SNFCC regenerates and enriches the surrounding urban fabric of local communities and enhances the image of the city as a whole. Its environmental, social and economic impact is especially welcomed during the current difficult social circumstances, as a result of Greece’s unabating socio-economic crisis.
An impact study report recently conducted by The Boston Consulting Group estimates that its construction has contributed €1.1 billion to Greece’s GDP, created 13,600 jobs and generated €57 million in revenues.
The events commenced on 16 August, having as a main goal to give the public the chance to develop stronger ties with the project and accompany it throughout the delivery process to the Greek state, which is expected to be completed by the turn of the new year.
The summer hours of operation for the Stavros Niarchos Park will be from 6.00 am to midnight every day. The winter hours of operation will be from 6.00 am to 8.00 pm. A program of free events will take place, including wellness and fitness programs (wellness and exercise consultants available daily from 6.30 am to 9.30 am and from 6.30pm to 9.30 am; yoga classes every Monday and Friday at 7.00 pm and every Tuesday and Thursday at 8.00 am, etc.) activities for children and families (such as the music and kinetics educational program ‘Play and Learn’ every Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30 pm and 8.00 pm), screenings (every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9.00 pm) and music concerts.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enter the buildings of the Greek National Opera and National Library of Greece by participating in one of the 90-minute scheduled guided tours taking place four times a day, at 9.30 am, 11.30 am, 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm. The two buildings will be otherwise closed to the public at this time while the transition to the Greek state takes places and the GNO and NLG prepare for their move into their new headquarters. The programming, which will take place from August until delivery to the state, is funded exclusively by the SNF.
Temporary food trucks will be available for guests to purchase food and beverages. At a later stage, a restaurant and cafes will operate on a permanent basis. Τhe parking facilities, which follow the SNFCC’s opening hours, will operate without charge at this stage. Later on, parking facilities will be available upon payment. The parking structure has a capacity of almost 1,000 car spaces. The playgrounds will be available for use once the process for obtaining all the necessary permits has been completed. Moreover, free WiFi, named SNFCC-FREE-WIFI, is available across the entire SNFCC.
The SNFCC’s new programming comes on the heels of the Metamorphosis celebration, a free, four-day cultural festival featuring performances, family activities and exhibits, which took place from 23 to 26 June, giving the public the opportunity to visit for the first time the buildings of the GNO and the NLG as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park in its entirety. Almost 120,000 guests visited the SNFCC during the four-day celebration.
The SNFCC membership program was also launched during the events, and more than 41,000 members registered through 26,000 personal and family applications. The membership fees for these applicants were covered through a one-time grant provided by the SNF, for two years. It is worth noting that almost one in four members are children up to 17 years old. Membership registration will recommence in September and the fees paid by new members will contribute to the SNFCC’s future sustainability. Corporate and donor memberships will also be developed by the end of the year through close collaboration between the SNFCC AE, the NLG and the GNO.
“The first phase of our vision has been realised,” said Andreas C. Dracopoulos, co-president of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “The hope now is for the public to continue to embrace the SNFCC as its own, support it, enjoy it, make it a destination and integrate it into its daily life.”
“This is a story of excellence,” stated Renzo Piano during a press conference on 24 June. “The excellence started with [Andreas C. Dracopoulos] and the foundation. They set up a very ambitious plan and then it went on. Because excellence is contagious. Once you start it goes through. It touched everything, it touched us.”
About the Stavros Niarchos Foundation:
Covering an area of 28,000m2, the new premises of the Greek National Opera can only be compared with the most modern opera houses in the world. The high aesthetics, state-of-the-art acoustics, as well as the installations of the main stage (1400 seats) will bolster a high-calibre artistic program. Furthermore, the alternative stage (400 seats) will become a hub of research and creativity in the field of education, community and contemporary artistic creation, with special emphasis in all forms of the musical theatre.
The National Library of Greece, with its new 23,000m2 building, will house the existing collections of the NLG, serving the needs of researchers (National Research Library) as well as the general public (National Public Lending Library). The National Research Library will hold more than 4,500 manuscript codices from the ninth to the 19th century and a rich variety of important historical documents and archives. A lending library, bolstered by a significant book collection and other media, will include separate areas for adults, teenagers, and children and will offer a wide range of educational and cultural programs.
The Stavros Niarchos Park covers 85 per cent of the SNFCC site and it is fully accessible to people with physical disabilities. The park’s landscaped paths are designed with a gentle grade upwards that leads to a summit 32m high, atop of which is the building housing the GNO and the NLG, offering spectacular views of the sea, the Acropolis, the whole park, and the surrounding neighborhoods. The park features a total of 1,450 trees, 280,000 shrubs, ground covering plants and grasses endemic to the Mediterranean.
The energy canopy is a marvel of construction and engineering. The canopy measures 100x100m, is supported by 30 metal columns, which weigh a total of 4,700 tons, and is covered by 5,700 photovoltaic panels, producing 2GWh of electrical energy per year. Its highest point is at 46 metres. The canopy’s geometry and white hue create the optical illusion of a very light structure suspended above the SNFCC.
With a length of 400m, width of 30m and depth of 70cm at the edges and up to 140cm in its center, the canal forms a continuous surface of water. It represents the city’s symbolic reconnection to the sea, and also functions as a recipient of rainwater, ensuring the site’s flood protection. It is supplied with seawater, which is filtered and then returns to the sea in a continuous flow.