The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, commissioned by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, recently opened to the public. The new space provides Athens with a national opera building, a national library building, and a surrounding park of 170,000 m2. The project was partly designed and developed by engineering consultancy firm Arup.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) was set up by Stavros Spyros Niarchos, a Greek by birth, whose fame flows from the shipping empire he set up during the 20th century. Since his death in 1996, the Foundation has provided $1.8 billion in grants to non-profits in 100+ countries.
One of the largest projects the Foundation has worked on is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), in Athens. The project, with a total budget of $831 million, aims to provide a space for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera respectively, as well as develop Stavros Niarchos Park which covers 170,000 m2. The project, upon completion, is being donated to the Greek state.
The building was commissioned in 2006 and was recently opened. The building is designed to fit in with the local landscape through a range of features, through, among others, a green roof that slopes in contour with the surrounding hills. Entering the building through its glazed portal, provides access to the buildings now home to the Greek National Library and the Greek National Opera.
The Greek National Opera building is inspired by the Ancient Hellenic traditional amphitheatres, and has a capacity of 1,400. The design process used a range of 3D modelling techniques in its development. In addition, the building has a dance school, a 450 seat performance hall and facilities. The Greek National Library building – which is free to use for the public – provides space for scholarly activities, a national archive space – which includes rare manuscripts – as well as a business centre.
One of the specialist organisations that provided the design and engineering consultancy for the development and construction of the SNFCC is Arup. The firm provided a range of services, including acoustics, civil engineering, IT and communications systems, lighting design, performance sound, video communications, sustainability, security services and vertical transportation.
David McAllister, Project Manager and Building Services Engineer at Arup, says, “SNFCC is the biggest, most functionally diverse, and technically intricate cultural building that I have ever worked on. We deployed a large-scale international team to ensure that we had our very best experts from across the globe and this herculean Arup effort was supported by an incredibly enthusiastic design team. The wider team including Renzo Piano Building Workshop, local sub-consultants LDK, with Structures provided by Expedition, Landscape by Deborah Nevins & Associates, Theatre Projects Consultants and Faithful and Gould, who all had a positive ‘can do’ attitude which enabled harmonious collaborative working.”