Designing for the Future.

A winning proposal by Tsolakis Architects is set to once again transform the ancient site of Plato’s Academy into Greece’s first green museum, a place where culture, knowledge, and nature come together in an exquisite synergy of heritage and innovation.

Just two miles northwest of the centre of Athens, a once neglected archaeological site is emerging as one of the city’s most exciting new redevelopment projects: the new Archaeological Museum of Athens. Jointly launched in 2022 by the City of Athens, the Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Athens, the initiative set out to regenerate the ancient site of Plato’s Academy and the surrounding run-down park into a vibrant hub of culture, recreation and nature. In spring 2023, Athens-based architecture studio Tsolakis Architects was announced as the winner of the open competition for the design of the new museum and park. Focusing on the harmonious symbiosis between the park’s green area and the urban expanse surrounding it, architect George Tsolakis and his team developed a design for a subterranean museum that hides the bulk of the structure underground while allowing carefully placed elements to enhance the horizontal topography. According to the architects, “the city and the grove interact in the centre of the plot, creating a hub of swirling movement that acts as a centripetal and at the same time a centrifugal force of flows and activities”.

Located in the northwesternmost area of the park, the approximately 14,000 sq. m. bioclimatic building, will be constructed with sustainable materials and aims at minimal environmental impact. The design features four wings arranged around a central plaza, with gently jutting living roofs adding to the park’s green, walkable space while also allowing natural light to flood the underground galleries through facades designed with a nod to ancient temples. Alternating spaces that are open and closed, above ground and below, and creating ample opportunities to experience the museum from different angles and perspectives, the design nurtures a sense of intimacy and encourages exploration—ideal for a museum set to house a treasure trove of unique artefacts and antiquities documenting the city’s history that have remained unseen until today. In addition to the main museum building, the project will include an open-air amphitheatre with a 500-seat capacity and an outdoor sculpture gallery relating the exhibits to the existing archaeological excavations of the Academy. Work will also be undertaken to better showcase the archaeological site and excavation areas. The park itself will be enhanced with native trees and plants characteristic of the Athenian landscape, as well as recreational and sports areas and underground parking facilities.

Contextualising the design of the museum and plans for the archaeological excavation sites and recreational and sports areas within a broader vision for liveable public space, the proposal is aligned with the City of Athens’ goal, as set out by Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis, for the new Archaeological Museum of Athens and its park to be inclusive, encourage participation, and “become an international centre of scientific, artistic and cultural activity and an integral part of the life in the neighbourhood”.

When completed, the project will serve as a vital node connecting the city’s future to its ancient past: The very location where Plato founded his Academy by a sacred olive grove 2,400 years ago, will once again be a place where locals and visitors alike can partake in the city’s culture, knowledge, nature, and heritage.


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