Revitalizing Cultural Heritage with Modern Architecture
A Landmark in Architectural History
The Goethe-Institut Athens is the oldest cultural institution of Germany abroad and serves as the administrative center for all Goethe Institutes in Southeast Europe. In 1982, it relocated to Omirou Street, occupying an 8-story office and classroom building with a total area of 4,629m², including two basements, a courtyard on the first floor, and a large event hall that can accommodate 350 people.
Seismic Reinforcement and Radical Renovation
Due to the necessary seismic reinforcement of the building, a comprehensive study was conducted for its radical renovation. This involved not only the deliberate structural strengthening with innovative mixed construction methods but also the complete modernization of the electromechanical installations, fire safety upgrades, full accessibility for people with disabilities, and the reorganization of functional spaces. An important aspect of the renovation was the “opening up” of the building to the city. To achieve this, the entire ground floor facade was transformed with large glass panels and vertical wooden louvers, inviting the public to explore its spaces day and night.
Functional Spaces and Accessibility
A central ramp axis connects the two levels of the ground floor, leading visitors to traverse the entire depth of the building from the main entrance and reception area, which extends to the library on the second level. The discreet presence of the cafeteria contributes to the space’s function as a public multipurpose area for casual and studious activities, emphasizing the cultural exchange character of the Institute. The libraries accompany visitors to the lower foyer, which is designed as another small multipurpose space, leading them to the renovated large event hall.
In the entrance reception area, a new wooden staircase, visible from the building’s facade, leads to the first floor, where a new multipurpose hall and the courtyard are located. The courtyard, with controlled shading and the possibility of focus, serves as an additional outdoor space for events, offering a peaceful green oasis in the bustling city center.
The office floors were completely transformed with transparent partitions, creating contemporary and well-lit workspaces that meet the new functional requirements.
Aesthetics and Integration
The atmosphere of the Institute is defined by the combination of the building’s evident technical infrastructure with the aesthetics of wood, colors, and carefully selected lighting. The discreet color scheme follows Goethe’s “Theory of Colors” and is reflected in the impressive lighting fixtures on the ground floor as well as the movable shading louvers on the facades.
Inviting Ambiance: Controlled Lighting for a Studious Environment
The differentiated and controlled lighting accentuates the inviting and studious ambiance throughout the spaces, especially in the expanded public areas on the ground floor, the first-floor multipurpose hall, and the courtyard, marking the Institute’s position within the urban fabric.