K. Antonopoulos apartment building (Blue Building)
61 Arahovis and 80 Themistokleous Sts, Athens,
Kyriakoulis Panayotakos (1903-1982)
Painter Spyros Papaloukas (1892-1957)
Dimitris Pikionis (1887-1968), NTUA professor
This building designed by Kyriakoulis Panayotakos
is a benchmark work of Greek modernism. Situated on the square of the
middle-class district of Exarchia, not far from the National Technical
University of Athens (NTUA), it ranks among the first Athenian apartments
to constitute a genuine expression of the radical principles and codes
of the Modern Movement. This work was praised by Le Corbusier who said
of it: "Cest très beau", when he visited it in
the construction stage, having come to Athens for the Fourth International
Congress of Modern Architecture (IV CIAM).
The building consists of a basement, ground floor and six upper storeys.
It includes 38 apartments of 16 different types and four ground floor
shops on the side of the square. On the flat roof, in addition to the
service areas, he created a lounge for the inhabitants, giving them
a place for social contact. The architect designed all the construction
details and the built-in furnishings, apart from the wooden rolling
shutters and the locks which, together with the sanitary ware and the
special electrical installations, were ordered from Germany and Italy.
The buildings elevations show the influence of the central European
Modern Movement. Their treatment is characterised by the harmonious
synthesis of solid and void and the rhythmic alternation of closed and
semi-outdoor areas, which lends them a mild plasticity. The most impressive
innovation on this building, however, and the one that received the
sharpest criticism was its colour: deep blue and warm sienna. These
colours, the product of the artists collaboration with his teacher,
architect Dimitris Pikionis, and the artist Spyros Papaloukas, from
1913 on were influenced by the radical works of Bruno Taut and other
European avant-gardists who experimented with strong colours on buildings.
The boldness of Panayotakos and Papaloukas was not vindicated in practice.
The blue paint on the elevations aged badly and its unfamiliar presence
in the strong Attic light discouraged the continuation of this experiment
and led to the "blue" apartment building being repainted in