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From Le Corbusier to the Polykatoikia

Almost a century ago, 24-year-old Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, the future Le Corbusier, saw the Acropolis in Athens for the first time. This was an essential step in his ‘Voyage d’Orient’, a legendary journey to the East in search of the fundamentals of architecture.

Le Corbusier will visit Athens again in 1933 during the fourth CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture), in the wake of which prominent Greek architects established a close contact to the leading figures of Modernism. Fine examples of modernist architecture begin to appear, courtesy of a school of architects who had drunk at the Le Corbusier table at the first steps of their professional career.

This walk proceeds in a roughly chronological manner to explore architectural styles ranging from nineteenth-century neoclassical edifices to minimalist contemporary works. Focusing on the boroughs of Exarchia and Kolonaki, where an unusually rich collection of modern buildings can be found, we will discuss the efforts of Greek architects to combine the contemporary international trends with a signature of Greek expression.

“The humble houses of the Greek Islands are the archetypes of our modern architecture” - Anastasios Orlandos, Professor of History at the NTUA

Text & route: Nikos Magouliotis

Image: Yannis Zaras

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