The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

INTRODUCTION

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a multifunctional and environmentally sustainable education, arts, and recreation complex/destination comprised of the Stavros Niarchos Park, 85% of the 170,000m2(42acre) and new, state-of-the-art facilities for the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO)15% .

ARCHITECT

The design of the SNFCC project has been appointed to an internationally acclaimed architect, Renzo Piano (www.rpbw.com), after a closed international architectural competition, by an unanimous decision of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Board of Directors (February 2008).The name of the Italian architect has become synonymous with high architecture for the last 40 years and is related to projects of similar scope and visibility in all over the world.

CONSTRUCTION COSTS

The total SNFCC project will cost approximately €566/$803 million to plan, construct and deliver to the Greek State. In 2009, the Foundation signed a contract with the Greek State, which was ratified by the Greek Parliament agreeing to assume the total cost of building the SNFCC. The grant is one of the largest donations in Greece’s history.

SITE

The SNFCC site is located 4.5 km south of central Athens on the edge of Faliro Bay. Following discussions with the Ministries involved and the mayor of Kallithea, consensus emerged that this site was the most appropriate and available piece of land for the construction of a project of such magnitude. The site is owned by the Greek State.

SNFCC’s UNIQUENESS

SNFCC’s uniqueness lies in offering all programs and activities under one “roof” and therefore combining all the benefits of an opera, a library and a park. The participation in Arts and culture activities and programmes comes to reality.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

SNFCC will serve as a beacon of environmental sustainability in Greece and be the standard against which all other major infrastructure projects are measured. It will be the first public building in Greece to obtain the internationally recognized green building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
Its construction will be green-friendly, using recycled materials and implementing an erosion, sedimentation and dust suppression plan.
At least 50 percent of construction waste will be recycled, and at least 5 percent of building materials will be reused.
SNFCC will double the green surface per capita in the surrounding municipalities of Kalithea, Moschato, Nea Smirni and Palaio Faliro.
It will save approximately 2,750 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
It will improve air quality.

ECONOMIC-SOCIAL ΒΕΝEFITS

The construction and operation of the SNFCC is expected to have positive impacts in the form of increased capital investments, consumption spending, job creation, attraction of complementary business and other enrichments to the local communities.
It will yield a €340 million direct output in Greece, while the overall contribution (direct, indirect and induced effects) of SNFCC construction to the total output of the Greek economy will be approximately €1 billion.
It will furnish a much-needed stimulus to the industrial and construction sectors, where approximately 80% percent of the impact will be concentrated.
1,500 to 2,400 people will be employed each year to support SNFCC construction and all backward-linked economic industries.
Approximately €40 million in fiscal revenues will be produced throughout the construction phase. The combined effects of operations and visitor spending associated with SNFCC activities will generate approximately €160 million of economic activity throughout the local community, Athens, and Greece in the first full year of operations. SNFCC could attract around 1.5 million visitors annually.

* We are grateful to “Stavros Niarchos Foundation” and especially to Ms. Lenia Vlavianou for their valuable help.  We also thank Niarchos Family for their donation that will change the cultural reality in Athens.

Dimitrios Pantermalis: The “green” Acropolis Museum

Dimitrios Pantermalis served as Professor of Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He was elected as a Member of Greek Parliament in 1996.

He is best known as head of the excavations carried out by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki at ancient Dion and as director of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum and thereafter as President of the Museum.

He was born in 1940 in Thessaloniki. He studied at the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University, and then at the Department of Philosophy, German Language and Literature Section. He continued his Graduate studies at the University of Freiburg in Germany and got his PhD in 1968. Since the early ’70s he has been responsible on behalf of AUTH of the excavations at ancient Dion, religious center of ancient Macedonians in the Macedonian Olympus (Pieria). Large parts of the ancient settlement and temples outside the city walls were excavated and Dion became well known as one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, with many movable antiquities exhibited in the local museum. Notable exhibits are the sculptures that now adorn the Museum and a rare archaeological find the special hydraulis, an ancient musical instrument.

Now he is the President of the New Acropolis Museum, which is an archaeological museum that focuses on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The Museum was built to house every object that has been found on the sacred rock of the Acropolis and its foothills encompassing a broad time period from the Mycenaean period to the Roman and early Christian Athens while it also lies on the archaeological site Makrygiannis and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.

The new building of the Museum was founded in 2003 and opened to the public in June 21, 2009. In June 20, 2009 there was the grand opening of the Museum in the presence of the President of the Greek Republic Karolos Papoulias, the President of the European Union and numerous of foreign leaders. The back then Minister of Culture Antonis Samaras, in a symbolic gesture, broadcasted around the world, placed a piece of marble that was returned from the Vatican Museum, in the front of the Parthenon. The move symbolized the Greek request for reunification of the marbles to the New Acropolis Museum.

About 4,000 objects are exposed in a space of 14,000 square meters. There are four different levels and the level of excavation below the building and the Museum was first visited at the end of 2011.

At the highest level of the Museum is the Parthenon gallery, which presents all the surviving sculptures of the monument in Athens. Transparent panes allow direct eye contact with the architectural monument which they come from and in the same time they simulate the initial conditions of lighting of the sculptures. This room gives a panoramic view of a large part of the city of Athens. The visitor initially ascends in the core of the room where teaching materials, signs and videos related to the Parthenon, its construction and history can be presented. The floor in this room is transparent and allows the viewing and lighting of the archaeological excavation of the ground floor.

In November 2010 the New Acropolis Museum was voted as the Best Museum in the World in a contest of the Journalists Association of Tourism Journalists of Great Britain. The international art survey “The Art Newspaper” classified the Acropolis museum in the 25th place among the 100 most visited Art Museums in the world in 2010, with 1,355,720 visitors.

– We thank the President of the Akropolis Museum Professor Demetrios Pantermalis for his kindness to answer the following questions:

Environment and Culture: For many people an interdependent relationship. What is your opinion?

D.P.: Certainly the Environment and Culture are interdependent given that Culture is essential for the management of the Environment.

What is the relationship of the Ancient Greeks to their environment?

D.P.: The ancient Greeks were closely tied up with the Environment and this relationship was direct. Judging by the places they have chosen for their Temples, they thought of the environment as a source of wealth and an aesthetic value as well.

Has the natural environment led to the creation of great civilizations or the intellectual culture led to the desired protection of the natural environment of the ancient people?

D.P.: The great civilizations have developed into favorable natural environments, for example in Mesopotamia and Egypt, where the water of the rivers was crucial to the creation of wealth, prosperity and eventually, culture.

Are the causes of the environmental crisis also cultural?

D.P.: Environmental crises were also happening in antiquity due to destruction of forests or underground disruption for searching of metals whenever extreme consumer needs were created. Accordingly, similar needs create the nowadays environmental crisis.

Do you think that the institutional framework requires some changes to be made and, if so, what kind of changes to have development with respect to the environment and our archaeological heritage? 

D.P.: I believe that least changes are required in the institutional framework on the protection of Environment and Cultural Heritage while the effective implement of the institutional framework is much more necessary.

Has an important project as the New Museum of Acropolis been hampered by hindrances in the process of the environmental licensing?

D.P.: The Museum of Acropolis doesn’t burden the environment. On the contrary, after clearing the yard area from the modern buildings, an extensive planting of trees, shrubs and grass took place so that a pleasant environment around the building that houses our unique cultural treasures   has been created.

Agios Efstratios: Our “Green” Island

Τhe project “GREEN ISLAND – AGIOS EFSTRATIOS” aims to combine energy self-sufficiency and autonomy, environmental protection, research activity and technological development in non-interconnected islands.

The aim of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of Research and Technology (GSRT) of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, which is the funding public entity, is to promote a plan of energy self-sufficiency for Agios Efstratios (> 85% in the first stage and finally 100%) through the adoption of technologies that produce and store electricity from Renewable energy Sources (RES), so that the energy demand of the island will be fully and efficiently covered. The Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES) is the implementing body of the project, which is responsible for the implementation of the project and the supervision of all the necessary procedures for the successful completion of the project.  The project budget amounts to 8.8 million euros and includes the following actions:

  • Introduction of wind turbines and photovoltaics in combination with energy storage devices (batteries and hydrogen technologies) in the power supply system of the island.
  • Green transportation (electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles and refueling stations). More specifically, an electric vehicle charging station with energy from photovoltaics and a hydrogen refueling station will be installed in the island; the latter will be the first hydrogen refueling station in Greece.
  • Autonomous stationary applications based on fuel cell units that will be used as uninterrupted power systems (UPS) and also to serve electrical loads of external lighting of public buildings.
  • Heating and cooling in public buildings using renewable energy technologies.
  • Energy saving in public buildings.

The “GREEN ISLAND – AGIOS EFSTRATIOS” will provide a field for research, testing and development of technologies under real conditions and will be an important tool for country’s policy in Green Economic Development and a national property for further exploitation. Ai Stratis, being the first non-interconnected island in Europe with such a high penetration rate of green energy, will become a model for the “greening”, if not all, a significant number of Greek Islands. Furthermore, it will contribute to the acquisition of know-how and experience in the development of non interconnected integrated island systems with very high penetration of RES, energy saving measures in the building sector and “green” transportation.

The main objective of the project is to make the Ai Stratis an “Open Lab” for tests and development of knowledge in the fields of green energy and ecology with global reference. Research and academic institutions will be able to access, collect, elaborate and exploit all the data that will be collected under real conditions. This fact will give them the ability to optimize issues related to the design, description and modeling of respective systems and processes, significantly increasing their scientific validity. Moreover, young researchers as well as undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to conduct research in the individual subsystems and the integrated power supply system. Furthermore, the Municipality of Agios Efstratios plans to create an Energy Academy that will be hosted in the building of Marasleios School, which will offer the opportunity to young researchers/students to attend Summer Schools in Green Development and specialized seminars in the operation and maintenance of the proposed facilities in all sectors of activity (power, transport, stationary applications, thermal and cooling loads and energy saving).

Finally, companies with cutting edge technologies in the field of Green Energy will have the opportunity to test their products under real conditions and in conjunction with the integrated power system of the island, gaining important know-how and practical experience in the design and implementation of similar systems that will lead to further economic growth and creation of new jobs.

Τhe “Environmental Concerns” of Αncient Greeks

Τhe “environmental degradation” of our planet and its “ecosystems” have woken up people and created “environmental concerns”.

We all might think that these concepts have emerged during the 20th century along with the industrial and technological development in order to protect the environment and make laws and regulations to this direction. In 1935 the British ecologist Arthur Tansley devised the word “ecosystem” for the interactions between the biotic community that is all the living creatures and their biotope, the environment they live in.

However, going back many thousand years ago, in Ancient Greece, we can meet some of the first “ecologically alert” people.

Plato

Plato in his “Laws” argues that the operation of cities is controlled with regard to the environmental impact as well as the compliance with the planning regulations. Furthermore, he was among the first who warned that deforestation causes corrosion of the soil, change of climate and damage to cultivations (Critias, 111d).

Aristotle

In his “Politics”, Aristotle relates the allocation of activities in a city not only with economic but also with aesthetic and environmental factors. The city’s limits is based on the transport cost and the expenditure per land unit for its establishment as well as the needs for quality of life and thrift of environment.

In his “Constitution of the Athenians” (in ancient Greek: Αθηναίων Πολιτεία/Athenaion Politeia), Aristotle states that the policemen of that era had to take care of the transfer of waste in long distance outside the city’s walls. Moreover, there was also concern on the reuse of the sewage as soil conditioner to the agricultural land. At the same time, various facilities like tanneries, dairies, cemeteries were required to be outside the city so that the “well-being” of citizens would not be threaten.

Hippodamus

Hippodamus of Miletus lived during the 5th century Β.C. and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning. His system, known as “Hippodamian Νemesis” respected the free, open space. His grid plans were consisted of accurately designed city blocks, straight and broad streets and spacious squares. The houses were designed taking into account the orientation depending on the season (sun in winter, cool in summer), and he predicted inclinations of streets for the removal of rainwater.

Theophrastus

Theophrastus of Lesbos (373-288 Β.C.) is considered to be the “father” of ecology. He was student of Aristotle who also gave him his name (Theophrastus in ancient Greek means “godlike orator”). Theophrastus thought about the balance of ecosystems and was the first who raised the great subject of these days that is the effect of human activities on climate, as well as the disturbance of ecosystem due to forest destruction, marsh and biotope drainage.

Homer

In Rhapsode F of Iliad, Homer studies the effects of war on the nature and he describes in a really shocking way the pollution of Skamandrus River by the blood of the Trojans and the big fire of Hephaestus for the salvation of Achilles.

Pythagoras

Pythagoras taught his students to respect the environment and to limit the interventions on the natural processes.

Hippocrates

Hippocrates, “father” of Medicine, argued that the health of people is result of microclimate data, nutrition and quality of fresh water.

* In Athens, at “Iera Odos” there have been transplanted since 1976 the roots of the famous olive tree where Plato used to teach his students. Part of the tree trunk, which was destroyed in a car accident 37 years ago, is kept in a special showcase at Agricultural University of Athens.  

Green Chemistry

Ιn a world of growing population and limited resources, the idea of sustainable development is the main priority for the future of the 21st century. Only research and innovation will enable the development of economic and social networks and procedures to satisfy the requirements for sustainability. Chemistry, as the science of matter and its transformations, plays a crucial role in the revolution of science to technology and is the bridge between physics and biological sciences. To lead the reactions and chemical processes to maximum efficiency we need awareness, creativity and foresight. The term “Green Chemistry” was coined for the efforts to this direction.

The target

To promote innovative chemical technologies to reduce or eliminate the use or creation of hazardous substances regarding the design, the industrialization and the use of chemicals.

The idea

The idea of Green Chemistry developed during the 1990’s, at the same time with many citizens’ movements to protect the environment and scientists working in research and development of chemical industries and research centers. The term «Green Chemistry» was proposed and established by the Greek origin Paul Anastas, who is considered the father of Green Chemistry an important scientist, Professor at YALE University.

Efforts and  practices for application

Given the enormous amounts of money spent on antiquated methods  and the simultaneous use of time consuming synthetic steps with toxic cleaning solvents, various initiatives have been launched by chemical scientists with long-chemical work in chemical laboratories and industries. Some scientists in their articles had already highlighted these practices and now the awakening of the environmental movement as well as the idea of sustainability have started to prepare the necessary changes.

Institutes of Green Chemistry

During the last decade many Green Chemistry Institutes have been created in different countries (Japan, Italy, China, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Taiwan, etc.).Some examples are the Canadian Green Chemistry Network, Centre for Green Chemistry (Australia), Green and Sustainable Chemistry Network (Japan).

University Departments

Many Universities and Departments of Chemistry offer in recent years Undergraduate and Graduate courses in Green Chemistry. Here are some of them: Green Chemical Engineering Material Framework, University of Texas, Austin, USA. Green Chemistry for Process Engineering, University of Nottingham, England. Industrial and Applied Green Chemistry, University of York, England. Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, Yale University, USA. Greener Education Materials for Chemists, University of Oregon, USA.

Mountain Parnitha today

In a few days, on June 28, there have been six years since the fire on Mount Parnitha; a fire that destroyed 36.000 acres of forest and within just a few days turned a natural paradise into hell. During these six years many things happened. Being then in better economic conditions, the State, individuals and thousands of volunteers approached Parnitha with love, donated equipment, offered their work, helped the safeguard of the saved areas as well as the re-growth of vegetation in burned areas.

Many Athenians have visited Parnitha and Tatoi for the first time, discovered their beauty and returned. Unfortunately, however, the growing popularity of Mount Parnitha doesn’t seem to be accompanied by a real change in people’s attitude. Even today, people cross the burned grounds in order to set up barbeques within the remaining forest and they leave their garbage next to the overfull trash bins instead of taking it with them…

“After the fire and those early interventions for soil containment, one of our most priorities was the redevelopment of the plant nursery of Agia Triada which had been burnt. Only the first year it has been done planting of Cephalonian fir from Vytina; thereafter, the seeds are collected from Parnitha and the saplings grow  in our nursery within their own physical environment. Today, 300.000 saplings of Cephalonian firs are growing in the nursery, when they reach the age of 3-4 years transplanted in the Mountain’s areas from October to February every year with the help of volunteers”, Mr. Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Management Body of Parnitha National Park, says.

However, the dozens of burnt trees are still standing there. Why haven’t they removed? “It was a political decision. But from the scientific point of view that was a mistake. The burnt trees are sources of contamination for the healthy forest as well as fire hazzards. Now nothing can be done because if machinery enters the forest, the saplings planted during the reforestation will be destroyed”.

As weird as it may sound, the destruction gave the chance to many Athenians to get know Parnitha. “In the last year, due to the economic crisis, the number of visitors has  dramatically increased. We didn’t expect this and now we face the urgent need to manage such a crowd. But despite the destruction, people haven’t learned yet some basics. Do you know how many come in the heart of the forest for barbequing, even with 6-7 Beaufort wind? It is just common sense, we shouldn’t chase them. Also, I regret to say that the number of the people coming and abandoning their dogs on the mountain has been increased. The dogs that manage to survive are gathered in herds and become dangerous”.

The economic crisis has undoubtedly affected all the Management Bodies of protected areas, even of Parnitha, which is of the most “privileged” in terms of staff and equipment. “Lately we have problem with the refueling of vehicles because the gas station attendants ask for cash but the public sector follows other procedures. Our resources are limited. Let’s hope that with the help of the fire brigade and the volunteers everything will be fine”.