The parking lot in Athens by an award-winning architecture firm

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A unique parking lot in the centre of Athens was designed by the firm Oikonomakis Siampakoulis Architects, which in 2023 was named the "Best Emerging Architecture Office" in Greece by British construction magazine BUILD.

"This is a very central project at the intersection of Solonos and Asklepiou streets, where the owner asked us to do something special with a lot of character for his space to be upgraded aesthetically and functionally. We found it as a very interesting opportunity to design a garage with strong contrasts, deep materiality, and simple geometries, where together with the night lighting of the space and the large garage door on Solonos, we believe it has something to say about the city centre," said the architects of the project, Ilias Oikonomakis and Angelos Siampakoulis.

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An architecturally misunderstood space, the city centre's important car park became the target of being aesthetically improved.

This seven-story parking building serves approximately 1,000 drivers per day. It is located in an area with a lot of business mobility and several important public buildings, such as the Law School, the National Library, the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, the Council of State, and the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Athens.

The wider densely populated area where the car park is located has a severe traffic problem and very few parking spaces in relation to the load it receives every day. The closed multi-storey car parks help those forced to use a car.

However, most of these spaces were relatively run down and needed more attention to their design.

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As the architects themselves said, "This project was, therefore, an opportunity to redefine these infrastructure spaces, which significantly influence how the workers who use them start and end their day. From the beginning of the design process, there was an alignment of views with the project owner, who asked us to focus on the ground floor of the building and to design a special space, unique in its context, that would surprise the customers of the parking area."

"Therefore, the study's focus was redesigning and renovating the entire ground floor area, regulating traffic and parking spaces, and, above all, creating a customer reception area. It was very important that this reception area of ​​40 square metres – and at the same time, the operational centre of the building – be strategically placed so it would have overall supervision of the entire ground floor of 1,200 metres and visual contact with the two entrances. We decided to place it where the company's offices and accounting office used to be, creating an open floor plan and utilising the triangular shape of the space at this point," they explained.

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And they continue: "In order to enhance the visibility of this zone and make it visible even from a distance as the point of reception and interaction with the staff of the site, we used a strong contrast in materials: white for the entire parking area of ​​the ground floor, and natural black Damasta marble with brass detailing for the reception area. Using this strong and deep materiality for the small reception area was a pivotal choice for the project's overall vision, ultimately creating a prominent jewel-like attraction in the centre of this vast parking lot.”

Thanas Diamantopoulos is a columnist for New Money. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

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