Something Magical in the Water: A Colorful new Feature Bubbles up at the SNFCC
03 June 2019

If you had to attribute one of Aristotle’s five elements to the nature of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), your choice would be clear: water.

With support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), an exciting new addition will join the SNFCC’s aquatic attractions. Starting this summer, a dynamic fountain installation will grace the SNFCC’s 12,000-square-meter seawater Canal, presenting elegant and explosively colorful displays choreographed to music.

From the Canal—which hosts kayaking and sailing lessons, a wintertime ice rink, and a stage at SNF’s June Summer Nostos Festival—to the water jets at the Stavros Niarchos Park that kids love, water is a key medium through which visitors engage with the SNFCC and make it theirs. Daily fountain shows beginning in July will add a new way for visitors of all ages to engage.

Water helps define the character of the SNFCC as a physical space too. The Canal acts as an imaginary link to Faliron Bay, situating the complex in its surroundings. Its use of saltwater joins many thoughtful design features incorporated by Renzo Piano and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in helping make the SNFCC as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. And the new fountains encapsulate something essential about the SNFCC: they’re not a static showpiece, but lively and infinitely adaptable.

Altogether, 59 vertical water fountains and 10 swiveling fountains will produce choreographed displays to musical accompaniment. The installation will extend in a linear configuration along the length of the Canal opposite to the Agora, in keeping with the architecture of the building complex, and will create a magnificent spectacle during both day and night.

This new installation will debut during the Summer Nostos Festival (SNFestival) held by the SNF at the SNFCC from June 23 to 30, 2019. Part of the fountain installation will remain inactive during the SNFestival so that events can take place on the Canal Stage, a venue suspended over the water. It will be in full effect, however, on July 14 during a special evening display accompanied by live music performed by the Greek National Opera Orchestra. After that, it will operate daily, without interfering with the popular events and activities that take place along the Canal throughout the year, including the kayaking and sailing lessons and the skating rink.

In addition to having envisioned, created, and funded the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation continues to be the SNFCC’s steady partner in supporting numerous public events as well as infrastructure works, like this one, that go beyond the initial plans to further enhance visitors’ experience. The SNFCC is the Foundation’s largest single grant, with a total project cost of €630 million. The Foundation delivered the SNFCC to the people of Greece on February 23, 2017. Following the handover, the SNF announced its commitment to continue supporting the SNFCC for five years, through grants totaling €50 million. These grants support the implementation of public programming and help cover a portion of SNFCC’s operational costs.

In a public space that bears the name of a man—our founder—who built his business plying the waters of the world’s shipping routes, it’s fitting that water features continue to play a central role.