Monday, 25 October 2010

"Letter to a young architect" [the books 1]

It has been said that architecture without Alexandros Tombazis would be like poetry without Yiannis Ritsos

In his book, architect Alexandros Tombazis advocates environmentally respectful buildings

In his advice to young architects, the distinguished architect Alexandros N. Tombazis repeatedly expresses an environmental concern. “Remember that building, which is what architecture is all about, means injuring our planet. So be gentle, tread lightly, for we have only one of its kind,” he writes in “Letter to a Young Architect”, a book published by Libro and presented on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition on his work currently on display at the Benaki Museum.

Back in the 1960s, Tombazis began to explore the use of solar energy and other natural sources in architecture and soon became a pioneer of bioclimatic architecture in Greece. His respect for the environment is one of the traits that recurs in the exhibition “The Invisible Thread: Alexandros Tombazis, a Retrospective”. The exhibition, organized by the Benaki Museum in collaboration with the Hellenic Institute of Architecture andAristotle University’s Architecture Department in the School of Engineering, places photos and maquettes of the architect’s works in chronological order. It also presents a film documentary by Apostolos Karakasis on the architect’s work and a video showing a discussion between Tombazis and the Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. A series of drawings and photos that the architect took during his various travels around the world are included to suggest the connections that Tombazis finds in different fields of art.

In the exhibition, the variety of projects that A.N. Tombazis and Associate Architects has undertaken since 1963, when the office was established, becomes immediately apparent. Many of them completed outside Greece, the projects include the design of the Bin Madiya Mosque in Dubai (1982-86), the Greek Refinery Headquarters (1994-95), Cyprus University, the Candia Park Village resort in the area of Aghios Nikolaos in Crete (1988-90), the refurbishment, in collaboration with Harry Bougadellis and Associates,

of the Athens Hilton Hotel and the Stavanger Concert Hall in Norway (2001).

Structures designed to allow optimum sunlight to stream in

and bioclimatic design features are two of the most important threads that connect the various projects.

In the case of the the AVAX SA office buildings, which the Tombazis firm designed in 1992-93, bioclimatic features include a control system that measures the outdoor lighting levels and adjusts interior lighting accordingly and another system that controls ventilation and shading, therefore reducing energy consumption. The offices of the Cyprus Electricity Authority were designed in the late 1990s with similar bioclimatic concerns.

“Remember to make the climate your friend and not your enemy. After all, it is much stronger than you are and can be very vengeful,” Tombazis tells young architects in the Libro book. At a time of ecological crisis, this piece of advice rings more urgently than ever. As an architect, Tombazis made the protection of the environment his responsibility. The purpose is both environmental and social. “Remember that, above all, architecture is a social art which has to serve society. Your work will affect the lives of many human beings for many years to come. Winston Churchill once said, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us,’” Tombazis concludes.

Tombazis is also a prolific writer, artist and photographer, and continues to travel around the world, putting down his impressions in his paintings, sketches and photographs.

His new book, "Ecological Thought and Architecture", which will circulate in November by Melissa publications, is addressed to the wider public and aims to acquaint the public with bioclimatic architecture, while the renovated Pedion tou Areos Park is also slated to reopen in November complete with 90,000 new plants and trees, two renovated theaters and a new skateboard park.

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Polykarpos said...

“Pedio Areos” Forest Historical Park in CENTRAL ATHENS Greece.

Indicatively we wish to point out that part of the abusive unlawful and accumulated construction interventions in the forest land have been set from the very beginning intentionally at the “Topographic Surveys and Technical Planting Plan” of the year 2008 and some others continue to be executed and take place erratically and illegally with no respect to the biennial contract and “the official File of the Architectural Documentation Final Drawings 2008” neglecting relative indictments brought up by the Direction of the Athens forests and neglecting the known archive of air photographs and snapshots ( years 1965 – 2007 ) of the Greek National Geographic Society and the Ministry of Environment.

During the reckless execution of these works trees have been cut down previously and never have been replaced in order to give the advantage and free space in concreting where marble curbs have been replaced by low cost concrete curbs and Outdoor Post Lanterns supported by massive marble base have been replaced by low cost concrete base Lanterns. A quite extensive area according to the DFD drawings soon will be and has been covered with concreting and marble tiles ( ¼ of the Total area ) with high thickness contrary to the obligations of non involvement in actions of filling and damaging with building materials the porous layers of the soil, for. ex (European Guidelines for Soil Strategy and Management COM 2006/232 – COM2006/231), contrary also to the announcements in public and promises of the High-Prefect of the city of Athens & Piraeus (Υπερνομάρχης), that not even a cubic meter of concrete will be poured and that the access road network of the park will be covered with earth following also the grounds of the “Supreme State Court” of the Suspension’s Commission.
In reality the forest scarcity value of the resource is ignored and completely violated ever since. In the meantime construction works continue to be executed without an authorized permission by the Forest Department and to the disclaim and refusal of the “ “Management” to issue the acts of reforestation and demolition of the concrete building elements.

Polykarpos said...

Because we need to be heard.Because the characterized forest land of Pedion Areos park has already been covered with more than 6.000 cubic meters of reinforced concrete elements. For this reason we must question ourselves what should be the presence and implications of Architects and Civil Engineers in this particulare kind of project.

Paul de Oro said...

Interesting book! I'm an aspiring architect in the Philippines. I think I should have this.

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