Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Dimitrios Kyranas in Athens, Greece

A Greek capital crime

I was strolling this afternoon along the wide avenues that crisscross the center of Athens, the Greek capital, perusing its wonderful fauna -- stray cats, dogs, and pigeons -- posters advertising concerts of famous Albanian singers -- there are about one million Albanian immigrants in Greece -- an array of recently built department stores, and koulouria -- the wheel carts of bread salesmen. Aside from the aforementioned curiosa, my eyes could not help but wander to the '50s and '60s blocks of flats that constitute a considerable percentage of the buildings in Greece's urban centers. They were erected hastily in those decades in order to house the thousands of newcomers from the rural areas who sought work and a prosperous future in the cities. This lust for urbanization is displayed in the films of that era, and although it seems absurd today (why would people want to abandon their wonderful villages, close to nature and fresh air?), it was justified at the time. In the 1950s, in most rural areas of Greece, there was no electricity, telephone, or running water in the homes; hospital infrastructure was sparse; schools were not very accessible.... The easiest and fastest way for people to upgrade to the 20th Century was to move to a city, and the most popular destination of all was Athens .

As you can imagine, a construction boom ensued, converting the Greek cities into the ( cough ) wonderful places they are today -- with a few notable exceptions. The most coveted professions for a man at the time were civil engineer or architect, and every girl's dream was to marry one. If they were unsuccessful, they could always look for a charming doctor or lawyer.

This army of civil engineers and architects partnered with self-proclaimed building contractors, purchased most of the available real estate -- thanks to an ingenious law that allowed the owner of real estate to transfer its ownership directly to a contractor in exchange for floor space in the building that would be constructed on it -- shamelessly demolished neoclassical buildings of astounding beauty (and of greedy owners), and bestowed us with cities full of gleaming blocks of flats and a population density unheard of in other countries -- except, perhaps, Hong Kong.

When those buildings were new, they carried some of the Lebendigkeit der 50er in them as well as the incurable optimism typical of 1950s Athens. Now they are neglected, and their façades are dark gray from decades of smog deposits. Rust, washed down from the exposed extremities of the iron rods on the rooftops -- the rods used in reinforced concrete -- draws dreary patterns on their back-yard walls. The roofs are a dismal forest of oxidized 30-year-old TV aerials.

And when the arrogant tourists from London, Stockholm, and Prague come across them, they put on disdainful facial expressions, revolted by the flagrant lack of aesthetic. My question: Is there anything inherently wrong with these buildings? Of course, most of them cannot be remotely compared to the neoclassical masterpieces they replaced, but, still, what can beat the simplicity and efficiency of a rectangular box with doors and windows? I am not an architect, but I believe these structures are...okay, in aesthetic terms. What makes them so dismal is the frustrating lack of maintenance. If their inhabitants really cared about their appearance, they would utilize the unlimited capabilities offered by modern technology: satellite dishes replacing the despicable TV aerials, smog-resistant paint, and roof gardens to make up for the lack of trees.

This high population density made possible by the blocks of flats could become an advantage. I'm not a city planner, but one can find commercial benefits: savings in public transport infrastructure, cost-effective coverage of a large population by optical-fiber networks, etc. Why are people so indifferent? Why do they tolerate living in buildings anyone with elementary taste would mock? I refuse to believe that they are devoid of the financial resources required for maintenance. This may be the case for some, but what's wrong with the majority? Are people in Athens so overwhelmed by the problems of everyday life that they have forgotten that aesthetics are an important part of the quality of life? I don't want them to rebuild Versailles! I'm only asking for some white paint.

http://www.phileasfogg.blogspot.com/

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Local Bitcoins clone script
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 25, 2020
Coronavirus information & solutions for the professional cleaner
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 27, 2020
LocalBitcoins Clone script - Pulsehyip
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 1, 2020
Gold chain found
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
Delivery driver
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 23, 2020
Ad
Previous article

Little Italy – will the flavor last?

Tiny houses, condo towers, India Street, Our Lady of the Rosary, first Italians, Frank Bompensiero
Next Article

Star Trek: The Next Next Generation: Tiger King

The entertainment equivalent of an Ugly Christmas Sweater party
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

A Greek capital crime

I was strolling this afternoon along the wide avenues that crisscross the center of Athens, the Greek capital, perusing its wonderful fauna -- stray cats, dogs, and pigeons -- posters advertising concerts of famous Albanian singers -- there are about one million Albanian immigrants in Greece -- an array of recently built department stores, and koulouria -- the wheel carts of bread salesmen. Aside from the aforementioned curiosa, my eyes could not help but wander to the '50s and '60s blocks of flats that constitute a considerable percentage of the buildings in Greece's urban centers. They were erected hastily in those decades in order to house the thousands of newcomers from the rural areas who sought work and a prosperous future in the cities. This lust for urbanization is displayed in the films of that era, and although it seems absurd today (why would people want to abandon their wonderful villages, close to nature and fresh air?), it was justified at the time. In the 1950s, in most rural areas of Greece, there was no electricity, telephone, or running water in the homes; hospital infrastructure was sparse; schools were not very accessible.... The easiest and fastest way for people to upgrade to the 20th Century was to move to a city, and the most popular destination of all was Athens .

As you can imagine, a construction boom ensued, converting the Greek cities into the ( cough ) wonderful places they are today -- with a few notable exceptions. The most coveted professions for a man at the time were civil engineer or architect, and every girl's dream was to marry one. If they were unsuccessful, they could always look for a charming doctor or lawyer.

This army of civil engineers and architects partnered with self-proclaimed building contractors, purchased most of the available real estate -- thanks to an ingenious law that allowed the owner of real estate to transfer its ownership directly to a contractor in exchange for floor space in the building that would be constructed on it -- shamelessly demolished neoclassical buildings of astounding beauty (and of greedy owners), and bestowed us with cities full of gleaming blocks of flats and a population density unheard of in other countries -- except, perhaps, Hong Kong.

When those buildings were new, they carried some of the Lebendigkeit der 50er in them as well as the incurable optimism typical of 1950s Athens. Now they are neglected, and their façades are dark gray from decades of smog deposits. Rust, washed down from the exposed extremities of the iron rods on the rooftops -- the rods used in reinforced concrete -- draws dreary patterns on their back-yard walls. The roofs are a dismal forest of oxidized 30-year-old TV aerials.

And when the arrogant tourists from London, Stockholm, and Prague come across them, they put on disdainful facial expressions, revolted by the flagrant lack of aesthetic. My question: Is there anything inherently wrong with these buildings? Of course, most of them cannot be remotely compared to the neoclassical masterpieces they replaced, but, still, what can beat the simplicity and efficiency of a rectangular box with doors and windows? I am not an architect, but I believe these structures are...okay, in aesthetic terms. What makes them so dismal is the frustrating lack of maintenance. If their inhabitants really cared about their appearance, they would utilize the unlimited capabilities offered by modern technology: satellite dishes replacing the despicable TV aerials, smog-resistant paint, and roof gardens to make up for the lack of trees.

This high population density made possible by the blocks of flats could become an advantage. I'm not a city planner, but one can find commercial benefits: savings in public transport infrastructure, cost-effective coverage of a large population by optical-fiber networks, etc. Why are people so indifferent? Why do they tolerate living in buildings anyone with elementary taste would mock? I refuse to believe that they are devoid of the financial resources required for maintenance. This may be the case for some, but what's wrong with the majority? Are people in Athens so overwhelmed by the problems of everyday life that they have forgotten that aesthetics are an important part of the quality of life? I don't want them to rebuild Versailles! I'm only asking for some white paint.

http://www.phileasfogg.blogspot.com/

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Clipless pedals
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
Cash for comic books
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 23, 2020
Apartment for sale in Tijuana in la colonia "Cacho" - $155,000
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 2, 2020
Model photoshoots
San Diego Reader Classified ads
March 24, 2020
Face masks for sale
San Diego Reader Classified ads
April 6, 2020
Previous article

Live Five: Kids stuff!

Children's online events streaming soon
Next Article

Star Trek: The Next Next Generation: Tiger King

The entertainment equivalent of an Ugly Christmas Sweater party
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close