Rex-Kotopouli-Cinéac Entertainment Centre

48 Panepistimiou St, 1935-37

Leonidas Bonis (1896-1963)
Vassilios Kassandras (1904-1973)

Reconstruction architects
BETAPLAN (Yannis Ventourakis, Panagiotis Tavaniotis)

Designed by the distinguished Ecole des Beaux Arts-trained architects Leonidas Bonis and Vassileios Kassandras, the Rex-Kotopouli-Cinéac building was the first systematic entertainment centre in Athens. It was an inventive adaptation of the French type of successive halls on a small lot 26 x 44 m. on Panepistimiou St. The building has a total height of 33.90 m. and a volume of 45,000 cu.m. The structure has a skeleton of reinforced concrete with technical installations that were state-of-the-art at that period including full air-conditioning.
The basement hall became a 582-seat news cinema, the Cinéac. Above it was the Rex movie theatre which had 803 seats in the stalls, a balcony with 321 seats and nine boxes as well as a gallery of 448 seats. The Kotopouli theatre was situated right over the Rex. It had 626 stalls, an amphitheatrical balcony with 222 seats and 15 boxes, and a gallery with 276 seats. This inventive solution arrived at by Bonis and Kassandras was noted in the international literature.
The Rex theatre had marvellous acoustics, a satisfactory view and luxury interior décor. The stage, 18.90 x 12.85 m., was until recently the largest in Athens. Vertical circulation in the building was ensured by two stairways and two large lifts.
In 1982 the Kotopouli theatre was destroyed by fire. Immediately afterward, the building was designated a heritage structure, and taken under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture. It was restored by the Betaplan office of architects Yannis Ventourakis and Papagiotis Tavaniotis. The Kotopouli and Cinéac theatres are today being used as a third and fourth stage by the National Theatre, while the Rex cinema has been converted by its tenant into a light music entertainment centre.
The façade of the building has been clearly influenced by US skyscrapers. The vertical concrete features dominate as they tower over the projecting marquee on the ground floor. The vertical dimension is also emphasised by the existence of two symmetrical towers on the roof.