This is a time where the public life at the city has been gradually shifting from the traditional outdoor public spaces to new ones. These are mostly interiors: the new public ‘rooms’ nowadays are airports, museums, hotels, conference centers etc. The institutes are also going through a period of change. Above and beyond their educational character, they add niches and enliven the city through their calendar of cultural events. British Council is a living organism where young people learn, seek information and come into contact with culture. The British Council building in Athens is situated in Kolonaki Square, one of the busiest and most fashionable squares of the city. The building was completely refurbished and the facades remodeled.
The issues at stake were: 1) to create the feeling of the whole in a building which is spread over eight floors and has a very small floor area, 2) the need for transparency, light and colour, 3) the need for largeness. The main vehicle for achieving all this was the vertical circulation. Two new staircases, as transparent as possible, were inserted in the building, internal and external. A new lift in a glass well was also added. Most internal partitions were made of glass so that one could see from one end of the floor to the other and this created a feeing of spaciousness.
Strong colours were used for the furniture and some key walls, which helped with orientation but also added life and interest to the interior. The main entrance and the lobby were designed one scale bigger of what was needed and a new ramp for the people with disabilities was incorporated. This created the feeling of a large and welcoming reception hall, from where the visitor could sense and almost see the entire building. The rest of the interior spaces are relatively neutral, clean and restful, ready to get full of people, to succumb and be overtaken by action. The latest technology is built into the building but is hidden and does not overwhelm the user or the visitor. Glass, marble, wood and stainless steel are the main materials used throughout. This project was with co-operation of Mrs Kontozoglou in the preparation of the architectural design.