Heavy lifting
Wallpaper|November 2020
Greek architect Georges Batzios squares up to the renovation of a landmark brutalist office block in Athens
ELLIE STATHAKI

On a generous, green site in one of Athens’ smarter northern residential suburbs, a strange concrete presence rises. The long, relatively low structure features unusual, almost retro-futuristic forms, screens that frame large openings and exposed textured concrete that make it clearly stand out from its neighbours. Locals know it well. This is not your typical Greek office building; it is the former headquarters of AGET Iraklis, one of Greece’s best known cement manufacturers. It was designed in 1972 by one of the country’s most celebrated 20thcentury architects, Alexandros Tombazis (see W*138).

The architectural landmark is emblematic of its creator’s style and early explorations of concrete and Metabolist principles, such as the use of modular design and technology – this part of Athens also features his Iliako Chorio (meaning ‘Solar Village’, a 1980s experiment in environmental architecture) and his own office. The AGET building was left empty for seven years after the company moved out in 2010, but it has now been given a new lease of life by local architect Georges Batzios.

‘I was on the island of Kythnos for work and the client called me up out of the blue,’ recalls Batzios, who set up his boutique studio in the central Athens neighbourhood of Petralona in 2013, following an international career that included stints with David Chipperfield in London and Jean Nouvel in Paris and New York. ‘The client and I hadn’t met before, but he’d seen my work, especially my work with concrete, and liked it, and he wanted to invite me to submit a proposal to a competition for the office building’s renovation. It was a lovely surprise.’

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