Renzo Piano recently unveiled plans for a new waterfront cultural center and urban park in Athens. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center includes a massive opera and a library that is directly connected to the park by a sloping green roof. Once completed, the privately funded project will be given to the Greek government, which will assume ownership and operations. In addition to providing hundreds of jobs during construction and operation, the cultural center will incorporate several sustainable technologies with the hope of attaining LEED Platinum certification.
The cultural center has been in the works since 2009, but the final plans were only just revealed at the end of June. The SNFCC overlooks the Athens’ waterfront and will house a new opera house for the Greek National Opera, as well as the state-of-the-art headquarters for the National Library of Greece. The cultural center will sit on the site of the 42-acre Stavros Niarchos Park, also designed by Renzo Piano, to provide green and recreational spaces for the city. Paying homage to the historic culture and architecture of Athens, Piano has designed the complex as a contemporary Agora.
The top of the complex emerges from a hilltop and cantilevers out over the slope and is covered with a large green roof that connects directly to the park. One of the goals of the complex is to achieve LEED Platinum certification, making it the first to do so in Greece. As part of its sustainability plan, the SNFCC features a canal that functions as anti-flooding protection for the site, as well as a water recycling system that provides for on-site irrigation. A green roof above the structure offers shade and cooling, and a 2.5 acre solar photovoltaic system will be set atop to generate power for both the library and opera.
Construction is expected to start later this year and be completed in 2015, when the government will assume control of the center.
Privately funded, the US$803 million cultural center is expected to be a world-class cultural, educational, and recreational destination and a new urban symbol of 21st century Athens.