If Athens should not be removed from its modern history, that is, to record in detail how it was mentioned by the imagination of the European elite to embody specific ideologies and then dive into the abyss of multiple urban plans that hid conflicts, ideological entities and realistic contexts, he certainly could not find a better narrator than Giannis Tsiomis.
Unfortunately, the architect-urban planner and city historian, who had been a professor of theory of Architecture and Urban Design at the cole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris la-Villette but also director of Studies of the Modern and Contemporary Woman of his study Athens foreign to itself – The birth of a neoclassical capital to be published in a neat, luxurious edition by the University Publications of Crete, translated into Greek by Tina Tsiatsika.
A student, among others, of the great Pierre Vidal-Nake, who has been involved with the real influences of ancient Greek myths in modern culture, Tsiomis should not be approved in his analysis of multiple philosophical, architectural and historical approaches. which were preserved by both foreigners and foreigners regarding the construction of modern Athens.
The design of the public space in the light-bathed Mediterranean metropolises had its own direction, which in fact had nothing to do with the enclosed universes of the northern cities, forming their own reality.
Regarding the view of Panagiotis Kondylis that the absence of a bourgeoisie simply raised more questions in the satro design of New Athens, as there was no specific cultural model or model, the architect-scholar realizes that the mergers of the conflicting, many times, approached a Greek matrix. multiple claims much more than one city.
Precisely because Athens had to be built from scratch, at the brink and especially at the forefront of the comparison between East and West, the revelation of parts from the open wounds – civil, internal conflicts and outside interventions – and especially its inability to make it functional the cataclysmic contradiction of a utopian ancient Greek model and an Ottoman influence that played a significant role in the construction of our popular culture – but then was considered blatantly hostile to any modernist design.
Tsiomis knows, then, as he fully masters the methodology of the Annales School, that he cannot speak of architectural construction or urban planning without knowing the previous historical influences, the acrobatics between the imaginary and the tangible everyday, exactly how people experience their public and private space, how productive relations are merged into their theoretical contemplation. THE Mediterranean Brondel, who seems to have literally dusted off, said that the design of the public space in the light of the Mediterranean metropolises had its own direction, which in fact had nothing to do with the enclosed universes of the northern cities, forming a their own reality.
The “spaces of desire”, as another of Tsiomis’s teacher, Ernst Bloch, used to say, imposed their own truth, their own ways – how green can you really impose on arid Athens, Tsiomis wonders – while defining universe that the architect is called to realize. That is why the author does not believe that there is a single neoclassicism that was imposed in the case of Athens but a palimpsest of different architectural neoclassical aspirations: from the most theatrical, Hegelian ancient Greek universe of Sinkel to the most realistic and much more cohesive.
The latter, who by the way we learn is the first to enact a law for the protection of antiquities in Athens and to organize the first restoration operation of the Propylaea and the Parthenon, will travel to Greece and make his own topographic plans, respectively imposed by the academic school of Munich, while the most director Sinkel, following the work he did in Berlin, will prefer to remain faithful not only to his ancient Greek utopia but also to the rules dictated by the city (see also his love for machines and metal structures).
And similarly both romantics, will each in their own way integrate their own modernist approaches, raids by the currents of their time, on their journey to the Athenian past, which will ultimately define the German future as an ongoing retrospective process, an “alloy of history and topicality “.
These inherent contradictions of the architects themselves, who, thanks to their interest in large-scale, begin to deal with spatial planning, try to be decoded by Tsiomatos in order to explain the specific urban plan of the students of Sinkel, Cleanthes and Saubert, P that is, that the strong identity of Sinkel’s neoclassical approaches to this first urban plan of Athens, directly intertwined with the founding of the modern Greek state, testifies not so much to the teacher’s direct intervention in the students’ work, as many argue, but to his profound influence. a particular cosmopolitan in “organic architecture” (in which both Saubert and Klenze also believed that the building must be an organic whole, as Goethe believed at the time).
Blending myth and history, culture and morality, these romantic architects have embraced in their own way each neoclassicism, which exists from a writer he considers completely different from the purely speculative, conquering to nihilistic conceptions of politics, and The
Even their extreme proposals, such as that of Sinkel to plot the paradoxes on the Acropolis, essentially echoed not only their ambitious alternations but also the diverse manifestations of European utopias and values found in ancient Greece as a permanent refuge, as well as barring the true Ottoman-Eastern identity of the city, it contradicted the purely speculative tendencies of emperors and politicians, as it referred to artistic standards.
In any case, those obsessed with the ancient Greek model, which he had adopted and adopted the enlightened West, were unable, according to Tsiomis, to see the living effects of the Ottoman element and the East on our popular culture, from which they were released. houses with courtyard, these high samples of architecture without an architect.
The author seems to agree, in this case, with the great representative of the Frankfurt School MI Finley that “the roots of values in Greek history are continuous, from the Homeric era to the genesis of slavery”, so no period is excluded from the history of Athens. However, he opposes the violent ousting of any kind of Eastern, Byzantine or Ottoman element from its construction as the capital of the nation-state, pointing out that everyone at the time was talking about modernization, but each “from the point of view of his own mental universe, without any contact with the situation in the country “.
In the relevant chapter entitled “Violence against people” the author reveals all this distorting look of both Otto, who considered Greece a kind of “Botany Bay”, and the heterogeneous Greeks themselves dreamed of a commercial Athens , free from Eastern “disagreements”.
“In a Greece torn by contradictions, the discourse of antiquity will offer an epiphany of unifying ideology,” Tsiomis writes clearly. “In this newly formed space that wants to give a new dimension: the dimension of its symbolism and representation. In the case of Greece, the question is not the direction of the city, the expression of the western bourgeois ideology, but the invention of the city itself. In the creation of the capital cities in the 19th and 20th centuries, the useful space and the space mentioned in the state overlap, so that it is difficult to distinguish the economic role of London or Paris from its symbolic role as ideological representations and expressions. “In Greece, the only removal that could house these overlapping functions is Athens.”
This article was published in LiFO.