The second tallest building in Greece, the Piraeus Tower, which has been abandoned for the entire 45 years since it was completed, is to undergo an interesting development as new facades are delivered by architecture studio, PILA. The studio has designed new facades for the building, which has undergone a development between PILA and Betaplan that is part of a development project brought together by Prodea Investments’ and Dimand SA. The plan is to complete the office block so that it can finally be occupied and put to use, just the 45 years after it was first completed.
There is a hope that it will become a central part of the rejuvenation of the area of Piraeus, the port city that is linked to Athens. The rejuvenation of the Piraeus Tower comes at a time where there has been interest in the artefacts found during the extension of the Athens Metro to go further into Piraeus.
The rejuvenation of the tower and the area is important as it is located in one of the key locations in the whole of Greece, not just for the wider Athens area. The coastline provides access to the ferry routes which bring in trade and tourists throughout the year and is the main point of access to many of the thousands of islands that are part of Greece. Athens is currently one of the few major world cities that doesn’t have the centre of its life, art, culture and daily life based around some sort of water source. With the re-awakening and re-imagining of the Piraeus Tower and of the area itself, it is hoped that certain sparks of the city can begin to move towards the coastline and the water.
The 84-metre high tower has been abandoned to new occupants since it was completed in 1975. That is, apart from the three floors within the podium. The rest of the 21 floors have been empty this entire time. Since 1985, all buildings in the wider Athens area have been built with a height restriction of 27 metres, meaning that the Piraeus Tower still dominates the skyline of the area.
As the tower faces all sides of the area, PILA are preparing to design different facades to face different parts of the city, engaging with people differently depending on what part of the city they are looking at the tower from. The innovative design idea is that it could look transparent from one angle or solid from another, with horizontal louvres between each floor and multiple vertical fins to shield the glass windows that are full height. This is an important shading system for this part of the world where temperatures can soar and sunlight stark and punishing.
Developments and architecture projects in busy urban centres can be problematic at times. Taking an imposing structure that has been unused and unloved for so long, can pose some immense challenges. When put into the context of the extension of the Athens metro line and the planned rejuvenation of Piraeus itself, the Piraeus Tower can hopefully become a centrepiece of the future of the port city. It is after all, a part of Greece that sees millions of people travel to and from the islands on countless ferries throughout the year. The tower could become a positive landmark in the area as it goes through a rebrand of sorts.