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The impasses in architecture and the New Museum of Acropolis in Greece
Nicolas Mitzalis, Dr. architect IUAV-N.T.U.A.

The necessity of the construction for a New Acropolis Museum has lead after many years (and competitions) to the project of B.Tschumi and Fotiades, which nowadays is in process of materialization.

Since the beginning there has been much of criticism about the place and the esthetic of the building, but at the last days, in Greece, there is a great protest because of the declassification as preservable and the imminent demolition of two neoclassical buildings that stand in front of the New Museum. Initially, many in Greece have believed that the project would have created equilibrium between Parthenon and the datum of the area, such as the esthetic value of the street D.Areopagitou and its neoclassical residences. Unfortunately this couldn’t have happened because the name of B.Tschumi refers to theoretical assumptions completely different.

Tschumi, combats conceptualism and the auto referential architecture that removes the essence, the body and the sensuality of architecture. The essence, according to Tschumi, is to be found in the contradiction, in the esthetics and the sensuality that are created from the juxtaposition between space as conceptual construction and space as pure experience. In this way bliss becomes, for Tschumi, the purpose of architecture. For him architecture as morphological purity does not have sense because it simply neglects the one who gives its life: the user. The dialectic of the contradiction is used by Tschumi in order to support a deconstructive esthetic where the contradictions are used as the eminently essence of architecture. In other words the building of the New Museum of Acropolis is in affinity with the theoretical approaches of the famous architect. As the architect wrote in A Museum Manifesto (Event-cities 2, Mit Press, p.409) the internal spatial organization of the museum reflects its own “historicity” and the fitting with the surrounding urban space, and not the external shell, which is dedicated to contradiction.

Clearly, the New Museum is not one of the best opera that the architect has to demonstrate, but now we face a dilemma that any solution will only harm Architecture. This is because, if the two buildings will be demolished, then two historic architectural creations will be lost, one of which being designed by the famous Greek architect and Professor in the interwar period V.Kouremenos, and at the same time the unity in the facades of D. Areopagitou str. will be interrupted. On the other hand, if the buildings remain intact, the desirable Tschumi’s dialectical of contradiction between Parthenon and the New Museum not only will be cancelled and the whole construction will have no meaning because the idea of its creator would have been altered, but also the result will be an auto referential architecture, the complete opposite of Tschumi’s beliefs!

I don’t know if there should have been since from the beginning an invitation of other architects to a closed competition, or if the site is impropriate, but the true enemies of architecture are those who guide it to impasses and especially to mediocre solutions.

architetus@yahoo.com

Source: Architectutal e-magazine

 

28/08/2007
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The reflection of Acropolis in the facade of the New Museum