ATHENIAN HOUSES OF THE MODERN MOVEMENT
Athenian Houses of the Modern Movement was a commission by Elliniki Eteria, Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, to photograph buildings of the modern movement in Athens. This work was also published and exhibited at the Benaki Museum in Athens. Among the works in this exhibition were the buildings in the Kountourioti neighborhood of Athens seen below.
Curated by Katerina Chatzikonstantinou
The neighborhood of Kountourioti extends between Lycabettus Hill, Vasilissis Sofias and Alexandras Avenues in central Athens. Large parts of the neighborhood were built during the 1930s in order to house refugees from the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe that saw over one million people forcibly relocated from the coast of Asia Minor to mainland Greece. A large number of these people settled in Athens, still a small city at the time without housing stock adequate to absorb this massive influx. The buildings that were erected employed modernist housing principles, arranging small family apartments over three to four story blocks and often providing substantial open spaces - something that is rare in the city of Athens today.
Today many of these estates are in disrepair and in threat of disappearing altogether. Aside from their historical importance as monuments to a traumatic time in the small nation’s modern history, these buildings also offer alternative living models in a city where urban planning has developed organically and the predominant building type is the so-called “polykatoikia,” literally “multi-residence,” which allows for very little public and communal space on the city's streets.
The series featured in this project originated as part of a commission by the Elliniki Eteria - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage - entitled Athenian Houses of the Modern Movement. The buildings featured here belong to a housing estate in the Kountourioti neighborhood. Rather than treating the buildings as anonymous blocks of flats, the photographs depict them separately in order to express the individual character that people have imparted to them over the years, thus adding to the buildings yet another layer of history.