Workers Housing Complex (OEK)
Nea Philadelphia, 1955-57
Aris Konstantinidis (1913-1993)
The workers housing complex in Nea Philadelphia
is one of the most authentic efforts to adapt the principles of modern
town planning to postwar Greece. It was the first large-scale work by
the radical architect Aris Konstantinidis, and was designed and built
between 1955-57 when Konstantinidis was head of the Studies Service
of the Workers Housing Organisation (OEK).
The complex was organised in accordance with the modern free building
system on both regularly and irregularly shaped lots. The general disposition
of the two-storey and three-storey buildings is governed by geometric
clarity on the rectangular lots; on the irregular lots, the adaptation
of the buildings creates inner courtyards with asymmetrical sides. There
is a systematic partition of volumes into smaller units that are juxtaposed
either at an angle or set back from each other. The basic unit consists
of a semi-outdoor staircase with two three-room apartments on each floor
on either side.
The construction is of reinforced concrete structural elements that
follow a strict grid defining the form of the apartments both inside
and out. The façades follow the grid of the unplastered concrete
skeleton and the fill-in brickwork walls painted in light earth tones:
terracotta, ochre, brown. A characteristic stylistic element of the
complex, which hints at tradition, is the projection of the roofed balconies
with the simple metal profiles of the railings and the vertical features
that link the balconies.
Various alterations made by the inhabitants of the apartments and by
the OEK bureaucracy led to the aesthetic and functional downgrading
of the buildings. Moreover, the main reasons why Aris Konstantinidis
resigned from his position as head of studies at OEK was his opposition
to the more intensive exploitation of land desired by his superiors
in the bureaucracy, and their refusal to fund the landscaping of the
open spaces in all the workers housing settlements, as he proposed.