The SNFCC’s Energy Canopy is a marvel of construction and engineering, in as much a local as an international scale. With an elaborate composition and special construction requirements, it is supported by 30 columns and is composed of 717 individual, precast pieces, towering over the building of the Greek National Opera. Despite the fact that it weighs a total of 4,700 tons with dimensions of 100 x 100 meters, and its highest point is at 46 meters, the Canopy creates the optical illusion of a very light structure, suspended above the SNFCC and joining the city skyline.
Apart from its technical and aesthetic characteristics, the Canopy also plays a particularly crucial role in the optimal operation of the SNFCC, and its environmental sustainability. The Energy Canopy has been constructed in such a way that it produces 2GWh of electrical energy per year, thus contributing to fulfilling the energy requirements of the Greek National Opera (GNO) and National Library of Greece (NGL) buildings, and to meeting the objective of minimizing CO2 emissions.
The successful creation and construction of the Energy Canopy marks yet another major milestone which brings the SNFCC one step closer to its completion. 39 months after the beginning of the construction, the following parts of the project are nearing completion within the next few months: the Lighthouse -a multipurpose room on the roof of the GNO, the glazing for the facades, the floors, the suspended ceilings, paint and lighting features, the fixed furniture equipment including the bookstands, the mechanisms of the central and the alternative stage and the sitting areas for spectators. Furthermore, the installation of the photovoltaic elements onto the canopy will begin in December and will be completed by early February 2016, as will the filling of the Canal with sea water. At the surrounding area, the upcoming steps include the completion of the auxiliary buildings, the pathways, the sports facilities and the planting of the rest of the Park.
Construction of the SNFCC is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016, when it will be donated to the Greek State, to its people, and society at large.
“The Foundation’s largest single gift is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), totaling $831 million (€596 million). The SNFCC is a testament and a commitment to the future of the country and the Greek society as a whole”, said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “After three years of intensive construction works, the SNFCC is maturing, nearing completion, and is getting ready to take its next steps for its handing over to the Greek people, who –we hope- will enjoy and embrace it”.
The SNFCC Visitors Center: Assessment & Future Operation
A key part of the project’s development is the SNFCC Visitors Center (VC), which has already completed two years of successful operation. From October 2013 until today, the Visitors Center has welcomed a total of 55,000 visitors, while it has hosted more than 300 cultural and educational events, with the participation of 11,000 people, as well as 290 school tours with the participation of 8,500 students, who had the opportunity to witness the progress of the SNFCC up close, and to be introduced to the types of activities which will take place after the official commencement of operations.
As the project’s completion and delivery to the Greek State approaches, the Visitors Center’s programming acquires the imperative role to act like a bridge between the construction phase and the future operation the SNFCC. Renowned artists from Greece and abroad will present, in an unconventional manner, a different aspect of their talent and sensitivities, which is at the moment largely unknown to the public. In this context, the VC will collaborate with institutions and organizations sharing a common goal, to further engage the public in its activities. A selection of the Visitors Center’s events will also be presented in English, for the international audience.
In February 2016, the Visitors Center will relocate, from the temporary building on the Esplanade where it currently operates, to the building that will permanently house the information point for the visitors, in the northeastern part of the Stavros Niarchos Park. Designed by Renzo Piano, like the rest of the SNFCC, the new Visitors Center will offer the public the opportunity to view the construction site from an exciting new angle, just a few steps away from some of the project’s most unique features, such as the Park, the Canal, the Library’s green roof, and the energy canopy. The new Visitors Center will continue to offer the opportunity to learn about the technical details of construction, as well as about the SNFCC’s mission. Up until the SNFCC’s completion and delivery to the Greek State, the new VC will also host a variety of programs and activities for all ages, introducing the project’s future operation to the public.
Until then however, this Christmas the Visitors Center transforms into Santa’s workshop, where Santa’s little helpers will create toys and calendars, prepare sweets, sing songs and deliver season’s greetings to their friends and loved ones. Find the detailed program here.
Lastly, from the 23rd to the 26th of June 2016, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center will reopen its doors to the public, presenting a rich program of cultural, educational and athletics events for all ages. The detailed program will be announced in the coming months.