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Organized by ek magazine – Hellenic Institute of Architecture.

Center for Culture Stavros Niarchos Foundation

WORKSHOP Letter from London


Letter from London: Greek students of architecture and architects in the United Kingdom, 1955-2015

On December 16th 2017, at the premises of SNFCC 364, Syggrou Av., ek magazine architectural editions and the Hellenic Institute of Architecture organized a scientific workshop on Greek students of architecture and architects in the United Kingdom, 1955-2015. The event was a great success with very high attendance.

Successive generations of Greek architects who realized post-war undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the UK, mainly in London, York and Edinburgh, and some then taught at major universities (London Polytechnic, Architectural Association, Bartlett/UCL, etc.) which greatly influenced British as well as international architecture throughout the second half of the 20th century. Their experience there was then moved to Greece through their designed and built work, but also through their teachings in Greek architectural schools, ultimately affecting the evolution of Greek architecture to a large extent.

The scientific workshop in December 2017 sought to explore these influences; firstly by focusing on the actual content of architectural studies in the United Kingdom in the period 1955-2015, a content that reflects the development of theoretical and successive architectural movements, and secondly, by investigating the influence of this content on the Greek architectural landscape, as it was brought on by Greek architects of British education who returned to work in their native country or taught at Greek architectural schools.

The lectures were organized into four sections.

In the two morning sessions were entitled “Architecture and education in the United Kingdom: An introduction” and “Architectural theory_Architectural practice: Greeks in the United Kingdom”), architects who were in the UK during the ‘60s and ‘70s tried to convey the atmosphere of the place, the time, the theoretical and educational fermentations (Spyros Amourgis, Anastasios Kotsiopoulos, Yannis Kizis, Lois Papadopoulos), but also the experience of practicing in large architectural offices in London (Solon Xenopoulos) or creating a Greek group deeply influenced by its English experienced members (Nikos Kalogeras).

An intermediate generation (Theodoros Maravelias, George Fatseas) focused on those aspects of architectural practice built on British educational experience, while architects of the ’00s generation talked about how their British studies defined either their teachings in Greece (Leonidas Koutsoumbos) or their own professional experience in London (Konstantinos Karampatakis, Christina Achtypi).

The two afternoon sessions were devoted to London’s two major architectural schools, the Architectural Association School of Architecture and the Bartlett School of Architecture of the University College London, which attracted a large number of Greek students from the mid 1970s until today. In the third session, Aristides Romanos, Thanasis Spanomaridis, Kalliope Kontozoglou, Stephan Buerger and Alexandros Kallegias personally traced, in various ways, the exciting experience of a school standing as beacon of architectural experimentation since the last quarter of the previous century, while Ariadne Vozani was the bridge that led to the Bartlett session.

In the fourth session, architects from the second most important school in London identified the main personas in it, focusing both on strong theoretical contribution (John Peponis, Ilias Konstantopoulos, Rena Sakellaridou, Sophia Psarra) and its interesting experimental phase (Nelly Marda, Pieros Pieris).

As part of the workshop, a namesake book was issued which, along with the texts and design projects it includes, aspires to summarise the different educational perceptions of architecture in the United Kingdom from the second half of the 20th century until now, through projects by Greek architecture students in various schools, mainly London ones. Additionally, it aims to pinpoint the British experience stigma in those Greek architects that worked in the UK for a while, as well as in the Greek architecture scene, through research studies, participations in architectural competitions or materialised projects, closely articulated by the successive architectural currents.

The texts preceding the projects attempt to evaluate the echoes of British architectural schools and architectural currents in the Greek scene (Panagiotis Tsakopoulos), investigate various parameters of architectural education in the United Kingdom (Stelios Giamarellos), map the different experiences of Greek architects as part of their studies in London (Ilias Konstantopoulos, Kalliope Kontozoglou) and formulate a side-theoretical (Sophia Psarra) or poetic design speech (Thanasis Spanomaridis).