Cultural Center of China in Athens

Design: 2020-2021 • Client: Cultural Office – Embassy of China in Athens • In collaboration with Nikos Ktenàs Architecture • Area: 1.956sqm • Sector: Culture, Institutional, Adaptive Reuse, Services: Architectural Design, Interior Design (Concept, Outline, Detail Design) • Chinese Embassy Architectural Competition Award

The Chinese Embassy has initiated an architectural competition for the adaptive re-use of an existing building in Suggrou Avenue and its conversion to the Cultural Center of China in Athens. AVW Architecture and Nikos Ktenàs Architecture have been awarded the first prize in the competition and they are currently developing the design of the project. The building is a complex programmatic facility, combining uses of exhibition, theatre, art, sports, education, and administration. The guide for the architectural concept has been the association of spatial structures with the bamboo plant/forest, opted in the client’s brief as the core element of the Chinese landscape and flora, with significant associations to the Chinese Culture. A peripheral circulation is achieved between the existing building and the cultural activity in it, where the key programmatic spaces with introverted and focused activity are positioned in the center of the existing plan, creating breathing space between the core and the periphery. The façade is designed in two layers. The exterior layer is a detached animated glass louver configuration, suspended by approx. 3m off the existing building shell. The in-between space shapes exterior balconies, connecting the rich cultural program of the building to the Attica landscape and rendering the facilities under the Greek light. The massing draws from the structural morphology of the bamboo canes, the proportions, and its segmented articulation both vertically and horizontally. The development of this formal metaphor establishes a perpetual dialectic between the contemporary city and the precious cultural functions sheltered within the building. The project aims to connect, in metaphor, two ancient civilizations and two vibrant cultures, becoming a threshold to Chinese history and culture, acting as a symbol of the Chinese culture in Athens while manifesting the importance of China in the contemporary world.  

The façade treatment, proposed as a detached curtain wall, attributing bioclimatic qualities to the building, refers directly to the proportions of the bamboo and the segmentation of its body, vertically and horizontally. This formal metaphor, establishes a perpetual dialectic between the contemporary city and the precious cultural functions housed within the building.
Building skin shading device
Entrance & Exhibition Hall, view of the ground floor. On the right the atrium leads to the multipurpose space at level -1.

Architectural Design: AVW Architecture, Nikos Ktenàs Architecture • Authors: Nikos Ktenàs, Angeliki Athanasiadou, Katerina Vassilakou • Architectural Design Team: Mara Petra, Angeliki Zerva,  Annita Klemou, Aristea Talagani, Stella Korina Zaharia, Giannis Galetakis, Evgenia Dimopoulou • Structural Engineers: Alexandros Athanasiadis and Associates • MEP & HVAC Engineers: INSTA SA • Accoustic Consultant: Dr. Gottfried Schubert • Quantity Surveyors: Dimitra Kosti • Facade Lighting Design: Eleftheria Deko