A listed neoclassical 1928 building situated in the historical center of Athens contains the newly renovated offices of law firm POTAMITISVEKRIS.
The firm has made a conscious effort to revitalize the center of Athens by reintegrating an old building into the social and urban fabric of the city; in this case, a building by distinguished architect Kostas Kitsikis, who contributed to the modernization of Greek architecture and its international promotion. While the exterior of the building remained intact, maintaining a mix of Belle Époque and Art Déco morphological elements combined with Art Nouveau details, its interior underwent a radical reconstruction in the 1980s, dismantling all original elements.
The recent renovation of the interior reflects the tripartite division of the building’s neoclassical facades: the ground floor (or “base”) acts as the threshold, containing the reception and client meeting rooms; the five floors (or “shaft”) contain the offices; and a singular meeting room is located on the 6th floor (or “capital”). Conceptually, the overall design was based on varying gradients of reflection, transparency and lightness, and drew from the materiality and formal characteristics of the Athenian entryways of that era.
The ground floor is characterized by a custom geometrical marble floor inspired by 19th century Athenian mansion entryways, which radiates diagonally from the main entrance and extends into the entire ground floor: from the reception area to the color-demarcated meeting rooms located around it. Tall reflective skirting has been added to the partition walls surrounding the reception area, which reproduces the pattern of the floor, creating visual continuity and giving the impression of walls floating in space. Similarly, the highly reflective surface of the secretary desk renders it almost invisible. The floor is multiplied endlessly, and a variety of fictitious geometries are created depending on the visitor’s position in the space.
The five office levels are characterized by a centrally located monolithic wooden secretary desks, whose carved vertical striations are reminiscent of mid-century Athenian lobby furniture. The office spaces are separated by seemingly floating double feather white glass partitions, which diffuse natural light and simultaneously provide privacy and connection, as employees assume the appearance of shadows within the “misty” space. Thus, the offices retain only the positive characteristics of an open plan office and a more traditional layout with walls or cubicles.
The library, the nucleus of concentration and work boasting approximately five thousand volumes, is comprised of specially designed furniture handmade by local craftsmen.
The 6th floor meeting room sits lightly atop the building, and is reminiscent of an airy transparent pavilion that is integrated with and disappears into the Attic sky. It is surrounded by a large planted balcony and offers 360-degree views of the Acropolis, Mount Lycabettus and monumental buildings of the modern city.
Images © Panos Kokkinias