Integration of a Modern Building In a Historic Context - A Small House


University of Patras-School of Engineering

Department of Architecture

Academic year:  2003-04,9th Semester

Optional Architectural studio : Restoration of Historic Buildings No # 3

Supervisor: Petros Koufopoulos

Team members:  Kyratso Kaskampa, Maro Makri



The site under study is located on Plaka, the ‘Conservation Area’ within the centre of Athens lying beneath the rock of the Acropolis. It covers an area of 140m2 and is surrounded by elements of historical signicance which have to be incorporated into the new design. One of these is the standing part of the former Valerian post-Roman wall (267AC) once surrounding the Acropolis. Residues of this wall have also been found on the ground of the site under inspection and develop along the axis of the original ancient wall.

Part of the northwest side of the site is adjacent to the l7thC Benizelos’ House, also known as ‘The Mansion of St. Philothei’. The northwest elevation of the Mansion overlooks the site. After excavations earthenware jars were found on the ground of the site, just in front of the Mansion’s elevation. The jars were formerly used to store food and probably belong to the Benizelos’ family. On the east side of the side, part of a neoclassical elevation is retained. Finally, the site is adjacent to an archaeological site under development on its west side.

The project involves the integration of a new building within this site after taking into account the restrictions arising from the surrounding historic context and the current building regulations. A small house for three people was nally chosen to be created within the site. The main architectural concept is the incorporation and extension of the ancient wall into the new design, so that it comprises the spine of the house. The house develops in two levels with its main staircase organized  around the extended wall. The new sitting room is has the height of two oors and overlooks the reatined party wall of the Benizelos Mansion.

The assets found after the excavation are left in their place and are covered with a glass oor so that they are visible from the interior and easily accessible for archaeological purposes. At the point of the party wall of the Benizelos Mansion an interior atrium is created so that the whole of its retained elevation is accentuated.

The decision for the design of the front elevation was inuenced by the form of the ancient wall. The new elevation is composed by pre-fab concrete slabs of unsymmetrical shapes which represent a modern version of the historic wall which is made of marble items. It is also a reference to the archaeological pieces found on the site behind the house.