This project by the architect-professor Ioannis Despotopoulos (Jan Despo) 1903-1992, who studied under Walter Gropius in Weimar, was the only section of his large-scale design for the Cultural Centre of Athens that was actually built. The composition, which won first prize in an open architectural competition in 1959, is among the supreme expressions of the radical modern spirit of Bauhaus.
On the Athens Conservatory building, the architect retained the dimensions and location that resulted from its relationship with the other buildings in the Cultural Centre. The result was that the Conservatory is positioned diagonally with respect to the main roads that surround its unusually elongated silhouette, 160 m. long, 32 m. wide and 10.5 m. high.
The building consists of a ground floor with pilotis/colonnade, an upper floor and a basement. It includes 35 teaching areas, a room with 350 places for the teaching of lyric music, a room with 150 places for the dramatic arts, a gymnasium, faculty space, a music museum, a music library, an 820-seat concert hall, facilities for artistic events and gatherings. The elevations are simple, organised on a strict grid and sheeted with white Pentelic marble.
The great length of the Conservatory, its stark white façades with their abstract form, and the rhythmic austerity of its various features – openings, grid, marble facing, ground floor colonnade – set this work of Despo’s perceptibly apart from its somewhat chaotic urban surroundings. Thus, despite its functional shortcomings and the defective execution of the architectural design, the Athens Conservatory has been recognised by specialists as a landmark in the urban fabric of the Greek capital.
Vas. Constantinou Ave and Rigillis St, Athens, 1969-76
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