The assembly took place at the new building facilities of the Greek National Opera (GNO), and specifically inside the Alternative Stage, while media representatives were given the opportunity to attend the meeting and pose their questions to the members of the Special Advisory Committee of the Greek State. Furthermore, as the meeting was livestreamed via the SNF website, the general public was also encouraged to send their questions to the members of the Committee, thus acquiring more immediate and comprehensive information regarding the project’s development.
The 61st regular assembly of the Special Advisory Committee of the Greek State with the SNF for the SNFCC mainly focused on issues regarding the future operation of the SNFCC, as well as the actions that each body involved in the Committee must implement in the coming period, towards the successful completion and the optimal future operation of the project. During the meeting, the results of the recent SNFCC impact study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and commissioned by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation were also presented.
Apart from representatives of the SNF and the SNFCC, the Committee’s meetings are also attended by representatives of all the institutions and official bodies which are contributing to the implementation of the SNFCC and will have a key role in its future operation, such as the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the Municipality of Kallithea, the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece. Furthermore, the Committee’s meetings are attended by representatives of the Organization “Friends and Patrons of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center”, as well as representatives of the project’s management team, Faithful & Gould, and the contractor, the joint venture Salini Impregilo-Terna.
“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is now nearing completion and, within the coming months, we will be in a position to deliver the project to its final owner, the Greek society, who we are certain is going to embrace it and look after it”, said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “The SNFCC was designed, constructed and will soon be completed, based on the needs of Greek society and, in particular, its uncompromising potential for growth. It is a contemporary project which introduces a new model of collaboration between the public and private sectors, with society having—even from the early stages of construction—an active role in shaping its identity. The SNFCC will be delivered to the Greek State and, as such, to society, within the specified timeframe and grant budget, free of any outstanding economic burdens for its future owner and manager.”
Results of the Impact Study
Construction developments for the SNFCC
The SNFCC is nearing completion of its construction, with 94% of all works having already been completed. In this context, prior to the 61st regular assembly of the Special Advisory Committee of the Greek State, a guided tour was held for representatives of the Press within the SNFCC worksite, during which some of the most significant points of the project were presented. Specifically:
•Visitors Center of the SNFCC: It is the first building of the complex designed by Renzo Piano that opened to the public, and offers a first taste of the aesthetics and design which characterize the rest of the SNFCC facilities. It also builds on the programming purposes of the first temporary Visitors Center which was designed by Greek architecture students, Spyros Giotakis and Ayis-Panayiotis Mourelatos, who were selected by the designer of the SNFCC, Renzo Piano, through a nationwide student competition. The temporary Visitors Center operated from October 2013 until January 2016, hosting more than 300 events and welcoming more than 58,000 visitors—including 9,000 students—informing them about the progress of the project and offering a wide variety of cultural and educational activities. The new Visitors Center, which only recently opened its doors to the public, also offers people the opportunity to learn about the technical details of the construction, as well as about the mission and vision of the SNFCC. Through a variety of programs, exhibitions and activities for all ages, the Visitors Center offers a brief taste of the future operation of the SNFCC.
• Wall & Artificial Hill: The intention of Renzo Piano was to create a Topos (“Place”), a new space which would host the SNFCC, through the elevation of land, creating an artificial hill with a gentle upward slope. Underneath this hill, the facilities of the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO) were situated, as a single construction.
• Stavros Niarchos Park: The slope of the Park is approximately 5%, with the diagonal paths ensuring a smaller slope, so as to allow all visitors to move easily. Another objective was for the entire Park to be accessible and friendly to all guests, with particular attention to people with physical disabilities. The selection and composition of plants was conducted in such a manner as to rotate seasonal flowering and to create interesting color patterns, aromas and textures. All plants which were selected are endemic to the Mediterranean. The Park will feature a total of 1,450 trees (until now, approximately 800 trees have been planted), 280,000 shrubs, ground covering plants and grasses.
• The Canal: 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 strengthens and symbolically restores the city’s connection to the sea, and it will also function, as a recipient of rainwater, ensuring, in conjunction with other planned measures, the site’s flood protection in cases of heavy rainfall. It is supplied with seawater, which is filtered before passing through the Canal and then returns to the sea with a continuous flow.
• Esplanade: The area of the Esplanade in the southeastern part of the project, connects the seaside from the surrounding urban area. It is also a very important element of the project, which will serve as an entry point to the SNFCC from the sea. Pine trees are to be planted at the northeastern part of the area.
• Energy Canopy: It is a marvel of construction and engineering, in as much a local as an international scale. Constructed using 2 curved ferro-cement plates, the Energy Canopy occupies a 100x100m space,is supported by 30 metal columns and weighs a total of 4,700 tons. Its highest point is at 46 meters and, because of its geometry and white hue, it creates the optical illusion of a very light structure, suspended above the SNFCC. It is covered by 5,700 photovoltaic panels and produces 2GWh of electrical energy per year.
• Archaeological findings: In an area of approximately 3,000 m2 and, specifically, in the part of the area where the Hill and the Canal are constructed, an ancient cemetery was revealed, parts of which had been excavated by the Greek Archaeological Service at the beginning of last century. Its size, density and long use (spanning almost three centuries) favor its classification as one of the most important necropolis of Attica during the archaic period.
• Agora: It is an exterior space, of 40x40m, which is enclosed and bounded by the buildings’ glazing. It is the common area between the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO), and is visually connected to the two main reception areas of the NLG and the GNO, also forming their natural extension. From the Agora, one can have access to all the important functions of the SNFCC.
• The National Library of Greece (NLG): The new 23,000 m2 building will house the existing functions of the NLG, serving the needs of researchers (National Research Library), but also an entirely new part of the library, with an extended range of functions, open to the general public (National Public Lending Library).
• The Greek National Opera (GNO): With a total surface of 28,00 m2, the GNO building will host one of the most important performance halls of our century. The proper planning and design of the space, as well as the technical equipment of the stage, make this new building a fully functional space, suitable to host world-class opera and ballet performances.
The €596 million grant by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the construction and complete outfitting of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, as well as the transition of the NLG and the GNO into their new facilities, is the largest donation in recent Greek history and one of the largest single donations worldwide, in the field of Arts & Culture.