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Hotel "XENIA" in Andros: An example of indifference for the greek modern architecture
MOnuMENTA

At the beginning of the 1950’s, the Greek Organisation of Tourism (E.O.T) makes a significant first attempt in the sector of development of tourism and its building substructure. A team of Greek architects (A. Konstantinides, C. Sfaellos, F. Vokos, G. Nikoletopoulos, D. Pikiones, and others) are employed by E.O.T, in order to design and supervise the construction of the hotels “Xenia”. In 1962, P. Miheles suggests that: “the architectural works of E.O.T. promote the development of architecture in Greece.”

Based on a substantial theoretical background, according to which, the importance of the integration in the landscape, the relationship between the inner and the outer space, the simplicity and the definition of the form, the authenticity of the material and the techniques, the standardization, but also the incorporation of the building unities into the local environment, comprise important planning principles and make this enterprise unique according to Greek standards. The hotels “Xenia” of the period 1957-1967, which are internationally acknowledged through publications, books and valid journals on architecture, are considered to be the most important post-war public building constructions and have brought about Le Corbusier’s enthusiastic remarks as an expression of Modern Greek architecture.

The passing of time has not been very friendly to these excellent examples of Modern Greek architecture though. Their abandonment and bad conservation as a result of insufficient management, altered the contemporary image of the hotels “Xenia” that are either collapsing or being demolished with the purpose of freeing the site, on which they were built, that is advantaged in terms of view.

In an interview with Konstantinos Themeles, A. Konstantinides speaks with bitterness: “The “Xenia”, which I have built, have become unrecognisable, they have been altered; the colours, the furniture, everything. And I start wondering, what for? (“The Speech of the Master Builder“ INDIKTOS Publications 2000).

Many years have passed since the last time the Hotel “Triton”, on Andros (A. Konstantinides - 1958), operated and offered its hospitality to the visitors of the island. The vandalised and lifeless building has been exposed to weather conditions and decay for several years (1999).

Perhaps its creator, the distinguished architect Ares Konstantinides, could not have possibly imagined that the time of the total contempt and annihilation of his work would ever come. Indifference by the owner of the Hotel, the E.O.T. (now Greek Touristic Real Estate S.A.), complete indifference by the local community of Andros. Why?

The truth is that this building, like most buildings of Greek modern architecture, has never been “understood” and “defended” by the local community. It could not have possibly competed the neoclassical houses of the island; it could not have possibly been socially integrated into the traditional settlement of the town. The present poor state of the building, with all the damage that it has suffered, and the indifference of the owner, the State and the local community, do not ensure a future. The situation for the “Xenia” of Andros, for which the countdown started many years ago, is probably irreversible.

However, the occasion of such a building being destroyed provides ground for questioning, sensitisation and actions that could lead to the protection and enhancement of both buildings of E.O.T. and also of the buildings of Modern Greek architecture in general, which are very much at risk. And there are many.

MOnuMENTA

25/02/2007
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External view (1958)
External view (2006)
External view (1958)
External view (2006)
Internal view of the lobby (2006)
Inscription from the lobby, which has been stolen (2002)