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February 29, 2004

Guest Posting -- Salingaros on Tschumi

We're pleased to present another Guest Posting by a 2Blowhards favorite, the mathematician and architectural thinker Nikos Salingaros.

A little background. This upcoming Sunday, March 7th, Greece is holding general elections. An issue likely to influence the outcome is -- amazingly enough -- an architectural one: the New Acropolis Museum, which is partly intended to house and display the Elgin Marbles, depending of course on whether Greece can persuade England to return them. Greece's more-or-less Socialist current PASOK Government chose the Swiss-born, New York-based Bernard Tschumi to design the Museum.

The project has caused an uproar, both because of Tschumi's angular, heavy-on-the-glass design and because of the way in which construction is being carried out. Is the Acropolis a mere piece of real estate that should be subject to political and fashionable whim? Or does it instead belong to Western Civ more generally?

In any case, the PASOK government has ignored criticism and is plowing forward in a way reminiscent of the worst kind of top-down, 20th-century development, forcibly evicting residents of apartments which were then demolished to make space for the new museum. As a result, the opposition New Democracy party, which is more-or-less conservative, has a decent chance of winning the March 7 election. If it does, the government of Greece may be able to correct what many see as a terrible mistake.

You can click on the images in this posting to view them at a larger size.


THE NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM


by Nikos Salingaros

To emphasize that Greece has finally reached the cultural level of the other European countries, its present government chose the Swiss (now American) architect Bernard Tschumi to design the New Acropolis Museum. Surely, with this Museum, the Greeks demonstrate that they are up-to-date! Another goal behind this choice was to convince the British Government that it is time to return the Elgin Marbles (sculptures taken from the Parthenon in 1802) to their country of origin. In a bold gesture of optimism, the upper floor of the museum will remain empty awaiting the imminent return of the Elgin Marbles. As Tschumi optimistically declares: "I truly believe that the day the museum is finished, the marbles will return".

Nevertheless, the rest of the world does not share this self-confidence. On the contrary, Tschumi's name provokes laughter among certain architectural circles. The American journalist Robert Locke, in an article entitled "America's Worst Architect is a Marxist" presents Tschumi as a poseur: "an architect of gags that fall flat." His architecture's theoretical bases are characterized as absurd: "Tschumi's theoretical writings, the basis of his reputation, are a tangled mess that alternately induces dizziness and puzzlement as to whether the author actually knows what philosophy is, or merely heard it described by someone in a bar once ... The worst of this stuff is so self-evidently empty as to defy attack."

The truth is that Tschumi became famous for his theories without having built anything at all. His buildings in Le Parc de la Villette at the edge of Paris are rightly called "follies" since they are meaningless. They startle and puzzle anyone who sees them. According to Tschumi, they represent "programmatic instability ... the Park is architecture against itself". As for his first building in the United States, Columbia University's Lerner Center (where he was Dean of the Architecture School), it is widely considered to be a total failure. Its chief feature is a stubborn refusal to harmonize with its surroundings. Critics call it "an agitated, irrational mix -- an architectural fiasco -- a dud."


Who selected this man to erect a museum on Athens's most sacred ground? Are there no serious architects such as Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier so that we are forced to turn to marginal characters? And why did we forget Greek architects of international stature such as Demetri Porphyrios? Sure, France's Socialist Government under Mitterrand first validated Tschumi; but this happened mainly for political reasons. Tschumi bears a scar from the 1968 street fighting during the leftist Paris riots. Exactly the same ideological and formational roots are shared with the leader of the Greek terrorist organization "17 November." We don't judge Tschumi unsuitable because he might belong to some political ideology, however. The problem is that the building he is proposing for the foothills of the Acropolis doesn't harmonize with anything.

Millennia of Greek architectural tradition form a root from which many fertile branches have grown over the ages -- from before Classical antiquity, to the Neoclassical style of the early twentieth century, up to the adaptive modernism of the architect Dimitris Pikionis. Now, however, Greece is calling on someone to reveal the latest, but always sterile, ultracontemporary style. Obviously the Greek nation judges its own buildings to be worthless -- since they are irrelevant to what the great international architect from the United States wants to teach. This represents a national shame.

Like a first-year student who has not yet become aware of the life embodied in traditional architecture, and who is impressed only by shiny objects and whatever looks strange and precarious, Tschumi does not appear to distinguish between living and dead architecture. Of the museum, he says: "The argument of the building is that you can address the past while being totally contemporary, totally unsentimental. The way to address a complex problem is with total clarity." If there were no sentiment involved, why should the Greeks insist on the return of the Elgin Marbles from London? These words show that Tschumi has understood neither the Greek soul, nor what constitutes a complex system.

Contrary to what he states, his design for the museum is anything but contemporary. It simply reproduces the discredited typologies of the early Modernists from the 1920s, confused together with the works of the Bolshevik architects Konstantin Melnikov and Vladimir Tatlin. It further embraces the disintegrating influence of French pseudophilosophers such as Jacques Derrida. Tschumi's architecture, instead of uniting and organizing complexity, intensifies it. It avoids any relation to its historic environment, remaining an introverted expression of selfishness -- a glass greenhouse in Athens's harsh summer heat.

I am not accusing Tschumi -- someone else chose him. The committee responsible for this project initially invited Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki (who are even worse architects than Tschumi) to participate in the competition. Somebody in Greece who is impressed by things foreign must have become very excited by the crazy, twisted forms presented as the latest fashion in architectural journals. Now that the Acropolis Museum has become a matter of honor for a powerful group of politicians, architects, and journalists, however, how can this mistake not proceed any further? The Greek Government does not dare to admit that it made a blunder in such an important decision. For this reason, it is pushing this project towards completion. The present government can fall tomorrow (perhaps as a result of this fiasco). Unfortunately, if this project is not stopped soon, we will have a structure in front of the Acropolis that deconstructs -- and desecrates -- the sacred site for many years, until it is torn down and replaced by a more suitable, adapted building.

The Acropolis Museum makes Greece into a laughingstock among those who know the dark reality of architectural politics. The world is starting to awake from the nightmare of a perverse architecture supported by a small but very powerful and fanatical clique. Contemporary Greece shows with its immature behavior -- chasing after all the most tasteless and superficial fashions -- that it needs some intellectual development. The country that defined Western Civilization needs to establish confidence in its own identity, and appreciate what it gave to the rest of the world all these centuries. Greece is suffering from such an intense feeling of inferiority that it denies its rich heritage, calling upon so-called experts to show it how to build alien structures.

This sad story reminds me of a time when the more developed countries would send bad goods to Greece -- rotten meat, contaminated grains, etc. -- sometimes with the collusion of the government then in power. Now this stuff is sent to the poorer African countries. But it seems that as far as architecture is concerned, Greece is still part of the Third World. Greek citizens have not yet learned to distinguish the phony from the genuine in architecture (maybe ordinary Greeks can; but apparently not those in a position of power and responsibility). Like fools, we continue to swallow whatever clever confidence tricksters sell us. And this in a country with a theatrical and cinematic tradition of clever comedies -- plays and black-and-white films from the 1950s in which imposture, pretense, and deceit play the dominant role!

The British will certainly tell Greece that the Elgin Marbles had better stay where they are now, until it becomes a serious nation. Since certain "contemporary" Greeks turn with such hatred against their architectural heritage, who can believe them when they declare a deep appreciation for their sculptural heritage? The upper floor of the Tschumi museum is condemned to gather dust -- empty.

Let this be a lesson to other countries eager to cash in on the alleged "Bilbao Effect," where an alien structure introduced into a neglected city is supposed to attract hordes of tourists. First of all, the long-term consequences of such a manoeuvre are not yet clear, not even for Bilbao. Second, Athens has always been a central tourist destination, and was never undeservedly forgotten -- it doesn't need another architectural attraction to bring in tourists. Third, what proof is there that those tourists who get excited by a deconstructivist building will also appreciate the Parthenon? Do tourists who go to Bilbao also appreciate its unique nineteenth century urban fabric? Cities and governments out to grab headlines had better understand these inconsistencies before they ruin their genuine attractions in a greedy pursuit of the tourist dollar.

References
* Robert Locke, "America's Worst Architect is a Marxist", FrontPage Magazine, 10 August 2001.
* Philip Nobel, "How Bernard Tschumi's Star Status Undermined His First American Building", Metropolis Magazine, April 2000.

Here's a page that illustrates and describes the Tschumi design. Surfers with Real Player can even take a virtual tour. Here's another well-arted page about the project. Here's a BBC report about the controversy. Here's the website of Berhard Tschumi's firm. Amusingly, it doesn't work properly on my Imac -- too deconstructed, no doubt.

The author can be reached at salingar@sphere.math.utsa.edu. His own website is here.

Our thanks once again to Nikos Salingaros.

UPDATE: Jim Kalb comments here, David Sucher takes note here, and Nick Kallen comments here.

posted by Michael at February 29, 2004




Comments

Why is it that the "big daddies" of contemporary architecture are so afraid to do something that builds a relationship with the local context?
And not just any relationship, but heaven forbid, a harmonious one?
Is it all ego?, all business?, all sterile disconnectedness on purpose? just to be the most clever.
It's scary to open yourself up enough to make real connections, real relationships with real people.
Could these actions be sitting on a foundation of fear?
What a sad reality. For us all to share.
These cold, shallow creations of glass and aluminum ARE what they appear.

Posted by: Chris D. on March 1, 2004 3:15 PM



Check this post on the Acropolis Museum:
http://ambrosia.blogs.com/ambrosia/2004/01/acropolis_museu.html

While the museum abomination has created much pain and suffering for local residents, I wouldn't go as far as seeing it as a significant factor in the upcoming Greek election.

The Acropolis Museum is just one piece of magnificent trash that will adorn Athens soon. The 2004 Olympics (the Fiasco, I call them) have inflicted already much heavier and permanent damage on an already problematic landscape, that of the dirtiest, most polluted large city in western Europe.

Posted by: Markellus N.K. on March 1, 2004 3:37 PM



Looks like the Greeks have found their own Liebeskind.

Posted by: ricpic on March 1, 2004 4:36 PM



Nikos Salingaros here does a fantastic job of demonstrating that he dislikes Tschumi's design. As far as demonstrating anything else these endless paragraphs fall short of everything but right-wing reactionary philistinism.

There is, for example, the classic moment of calling attention to the Tschumi's scar from the May '68 "riot", the "formational roots" of which are identified with the "17 November" terrorist organization. Choosing the word "riot" (while not incorrect) rather than, perhaps, "general strike" or "student uprising" or "popular uprising" (also not incorrect) is telling. Equally telling is the labelling of Tschumi as a terrorist with the following brilliant deduction: Tschumi has a scar received in May '68, May '68 was sortof Marxist, "17 Nov." is Marxist, "17 Nov." is terrorist, therefore by the transative property Tschumi is a terrorist. I hope I'm not presumptuous if I offer some rhetorical advice: you would be more explicit, if no less accurate, in identifying Tschumi with Al Qaeda.

Although there is something political at stake here (the "socialists" who currently control Greece), the author seems very concerned to label the architect as a Communist. Note the "Bolshevik" predecessors of Tatlin (though one might choose some Bauhaus Germans with equal success); and the cited article "America's Worst Architect is a Marxist", etc. Taschlin is a Marxist? So what. We ought to be concerned with whether this is a good building or not.

I'm glad that, after all this AND calling Derrida a "pseudophilosopher", you qualify all of this delightful red-baiting digression by saying "We don't judge Tschumi unsuitable because he might belong to some political ideology, however." I'll take your word for it. But consider editing.

Your article is at its best moment (no sarcasm intended) here:

"Tschumi's architecture, instead of uniting and organizing complexity, intensifies it. It avoids any relation to its historic environment, remaining an introverted expression of selfishness -- a glass greenhouse in Athens's harsh summer heat."

You make 3 claims: 1) too complex, 2) unrelated to historic environment, 3) will have expensive Air Conditioning facilities.

I'm not sure what to think of the building, it doesn't look too bad to me although I don't love it. I do know that "too much complexity" is a fairly subjective judgement. As far as it being unrelated to historic environment, it might strengthen your argument to explain why this is important. It strikes me that IM Pei's Glass Pyramid at the Louvre might be called historically unrelated but I think I'm being fairly uncontrovercial here when I say it's freaking awesome.

In fact, amongst all of these words you have not even made any attempt to justify these three theses, with the possible exception of the quote by Locke and the unattributed "an agitated, irrational mix -- an architectural fiasco -- a dud," both of which refer to previous buildings and are thus of dubious relevance. And who are these critics anyway? When you say "Tschumi's name provokes laughter among certain architectural circles," do you mean MOST architectural circles? Or do you mean the ones with the most good judegement? If the latter perhaps your article would be improved by showing how we should trust these critics rather than the "small but very powerful and fanatical clique" that seems to like him.

Your populist sentiment is charming "maybe ordinary Greeks [have good taste]", but be careful lest ye be labeled a Philistine.

Posted by: nick kallen on March 1, 2004 7:16 PM



Jeez. I just went here. I'm no architectual expert but Salingaros' claim: "It avoids any relation to its historic environment" is plainly wrong.

. Howabout the fact that the glass gallery is perfectly proportioned and arranged so as to "display the Parthenon Marbles with exactly the same dimensions they once occupied on the Parthenon"?

. Howabout the fact that the glass gallery is elevated on a platform /just like the real parthenon/? In fact it looks to me to be oriented at the same angle to the plateau, and thus has less to do with "French psuedophilosophers" and more to with relating to its historic environment.

. And howabout the fact that the underlying structure has modernist "Doric" columns spaced /exactly like the real parthenon/?

It's like reading an article on architecture by Bill O'Reilly.

blah

Posted by: nick kallen on March 1, 2004 8:22 PM



I tend to agree with Nikos on a lot of issues and I might very end up agreeing with him on the merits of Tschumi's design, but his post doesn't really explain or show how or why Tschumi's work is so terrible. Whether Tschumi's design respects its context and/or is a silly bit of froth etc etc is impossible to judge from this post.

Moreover the post seems to contain (correct me if I am wrong) an association of "traditional" architecture with "conservative" thought (and vice verse) which I simply don't think stands up to analysis. Traditional city designs are neither particularly favored by political/cultural conservatives nor inculcate conservative values in their user-citizens. The two issues are simply on very different planes and I think that to try to force them together lacks rigor and conviction.

I've seen this attempt to link traditional townscapes to political conservatism and that dog don't hunt. It's been made recently on other blogs -- one even given very great bandwidth here at the Blowhards -- and it is, I believe, an unconvincing perspective.

Posted by: David Sucher on March 1, 2004 9:57 PM



David: very well put! (much better than my diatribe).

Posted by: nick kallen on March 2, 2004 2:42 PM



I am glad that at least some people enjoyed my remarks on the New Acropolis Museum, although I clearly expected that everyone would not agree with my point of view. There is a misunderstanding in that the article is not all about Bernard Tschumi (who is probably doing the best he can), but about the process of selection. The Greek Government chose from among the worst living architects, and got (in many people's opinion) a bad design as a result.

The deeper problem is that Governments the world over have been advised -- no doubt by prominent international and local architects -- that the best architecture has a certain "look". This is what I'm writing against. Criticisms of Tschumi's architecture have been around for years -- I am merely quoting published material. In spite of this, he was selected for this prominent project. The Greek Government chose to believe what certain experts told it, and to ignore others' opinion on the matter. Incredibly, it chose to ignore sensory information, instead going along with an abstract ideological line.

For swallowing this deception (i.e., of the essential deconstructivist "look"), someone has to be held accountable. In this case, perhaps the Greek Government will fall in less than a week. As Markellus states, perhaps the Acropolis Museum is not THE major reason why the Government would change, but it is certainly one of them. Maybe the watershed is finally being crossed -- when the selection of an alien architecture comes back to haunt those who commissioned it.

Posted by: Nikos Salingaros on March 2, 2004 2:50 PM



I have elaborated on my comments here

Posted by: nick kallen on March 2, 2004 5:14 PM



There is a misunderstanding in that the article is not all about Bernard Tschumi (who is probably doing the best he can), but about the process of selection.

Dear God, no wonder I misunderstood. After 7 paragraphs of character assassination, finally 1 meagre paragraph about the selection process.

If there were irregularities in the selection (was it an open competition? was it invited? who was the competition advisor? how was the brief structured? were are the jury comments? what did the other entries look like?) were is the information and facts that would help us reach that conclusion?

As far as quoting material, the material you quote has nothing to do with the Acropolis competition. Wouldn't that sort of material be more important in discussing the shortcomings of the design?

Sorry, but diatribes disguised as criticism should be dismissed out of hand.

Posted by: debritto on March 2, 2004 9:02 PM



My thoughts on this subject (and many other architectural matters, can be found here: http://www.unfolio.com .

Posted by: Archtopus on March 3, 2004 3:47 PM



Nikos, I also think Demetri Porphyrios would have been a better selection for this commission, and it surprises me that a people who have -- at least in America -- the reputation of being so nationalistic as the Greeks would pass over a Greek architect of international standing and give this design to someone associated with both northern Europe and America. Do you know anything further about the selection process? Did Porphyrios submit a design, and has he had any comments about what was chosen? I imagine his thoughts on this matter would be instructive and helpful.

Posted by: Nigel Redcoffin on March 4, 2004 8:30 PM



Nigel;

No; as far as I know, Demetri Porphyrios did not take part in this competition. You can see the twelve chosen finalists at an Italian website:

http://www.europaconcorsi.com/db/rec/concorso.php?id=9547

For some reason, this list is hard to find. I entirely agree with you that Demetri's thoughts on this matter are of supreme importance -- yet I don't know if he has made them public. I plan to ask him about it when he is awarded the Driehaus Prize in Chicago later this month, a happy occasion to which I have been invited.

I remember looking at all twelve designs, and thought that some (but not all) of the local Greek architects' work was far more adaptive to the project than the winning entry. Yet, it won unanimously.

There has been some criticism of my article based on the misunderstanding that I am arguing for a purely Classical Museum. This error needs clearing up. I would expect either Demetri or Leon to design a superb building in the Classical style, yet totally new in its expression. The innovation would be in how evolved typologies are put together in a new, unique manner. By contrast, either Christopher or I (who am about to become principal partner in an architectural design firm) can come up with an entirely novel design that is perfectly adapted to the site and its surroundings. In the latter case, we will use any form language that is coherent within itself, and with its environment. That cannot be said of the present design.

Posted by: Nikos Salingaros on March 5, 2004 12:57 PM



"Howabout the fact that the glass gallery is perfectly proportioned and arranged so as to "display the Parthenon Marbles with exactly the same dimensions they once occupied on the Parthenon"?"

While we're at it, why don't we compliment the architect for the amazing feat that his building doesn't fall down? The proper arrangement of the marbles the museum is designed for in the first place is the least gesture that ANY submission could (should, must) do.


"In fact it looks to me to be oriented at the same angle to the plateau, and thus has less to do with "French psuedophilosophers" and more to with relating to its historic environment."

Assuming the visitor has read these lines, he will say, 'oh, how nice!' and move on. Otherwise, the relationship is far from intuitive, and only architects care for this kind of cheap textual associations anyway.


"And howabout the fact that the underlying structure has modernist "Doric" columns spaced /exactly like the real parthenon/?"

Who cares? They should be spaced to meet the requirements of the building and of the public space around it. Again, unless there is an important colonnade in the immediate vicinity of the building that deserves being addressed, the Parthenon is hundreds of metres away, no one will notice, and NO ONE CARES. This gesture is not contextualism but an excuse from it.

And what is "modernist Doric", by the way? Either it's in the line of the Classical Doric order, with variations on the proportions and detailing as the orders have varied through history, and thus entitled to the proper nomenclature (Doric and Classical), or it's not Doric at all. Proportion, intercolumniation and entasis alone make not an order. There is Modern Classicism, but there can be no Modernist Classicism any more than Gothic Classicism or Baroque Modernism.

For better or (mostly) for worse, blobitecture and deconstructivism have become the choice by default in civic architecture and will get you more money, more publicity and less outrage from the architectural community than Léon Krier, Chris Alexander and other sensible architects. And politics, nowadays, is all about getting publicity, funding and keeping the hysterical movements quiet, rather than pleasing the majority and doing the right thing (you know, all the good stuff your parents tried to teach you before you went out into the real world).

Posted by: Pedro P. Palazzo on March 8, 2004 9:46 AM



... and the first comments after the historic reversal of the Greek Government on March 7 come from Italy. The Newsletter of Stefano Borselli is sent out in e-mail three days before being posted on his weblog.

www.stefanoborselli.elios.net

In Newsletter No. 197, Stefano writes:

"Nikos sara contento: il mostro dell'Acropoli ha portato sfortuna al governo greco, forse quello nuovo ci ripensera. [Nikos will be pleased: the Acropolis monster has brought bad luck to the Greek Government; perhaps the new government will re-think the whole thing]". -- Stefano Borselli.

Of course, as a scientist I cannot abide by superstition, nor appeal to mechanisms of bad luck. Nevertheless, as a consise and neat explanation, this characterization does have definite informational advantages.

Posted by: Nikos Salingaros on March 8, 2004 11:22 AM



Nikos wrote:
"Demetri's thoughts on this matter are of supreme importance -- yet I don't know if he has made them public. I plan to ask him about it when he is awarded the Driehaus Prize in Chicago later this month..."

I certainly hope he will let you communicate some of his comments in this forum. In the mean time, here's a Porphyrios quotation which you've no doubt read:

"The temptation to turn one's back on contemporary industrial society in order to return to the security and institutions of some pre-industrial order, when pursued, leaves us suspended amid the reverberations of Plato's ghost: 'what then?' Instead, the essential meaning of vernacular refers to the ethos of straightforward construction.... Yet architecture cannot remain at this 'starting point.' Its vocation is to lift itself above the contingencies of building, by commemorating those very contingencies from which it sprung in the first place. What distinguishes a shed from a temple is the mythopoeic power the temple possesses: it is a power that transgresses the boundaries of contingent reality...[it] naturalises the constructional a prioris of shelter by turning them into myth..."

It seems your critique of Tschumi's museum at Athens, is not that it fails to repeat some identifiable elements of design that one might call "classical", or that it fails to reflect some features of the site in modernist idiom, but that it lacks this transformational quality. Unfortunately, I suspect that the people who commonly select designs for prestigious, government-funded commissions, in any society nowdays, are more likely to be exactly the sort of people least able to detect, to 'see' this mythic and eternal aspect, of a building.

It would be fun to discuss some truly modern buildings, structures which do not overtly refer to any details of so-called classical ornament or design, which still possess this transformative quality. For me, O'Niell Ford's campus of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas comes to mind at once. His use of traditional materials, robust shapes that suit the climate, reasonable human scale and thoughtful fitness for the limestone hills and gnarled oak tress of the setting, soften the mid-20th century minimalism of the design to produce a very lovely and spiritual place -- but I'm sure I don't have the chops to discuss all this in professional language...

All the best,
N.

Posted by: Nigel Redcoffin on March 9, 2004 11:38 AM



I am cirtain that a the best building possible would not change the odds on the British Museum handing any marbles back. Afterall, it is one of the main attractions. However, Tschumi's design, with the large glass gallery allocated to the 'Elgin Marbles' offers something the British Museum could never reproduce: The natural light reflecting off the ground as to light the sculptures from underneath as well as from top. Their position is also such that the visitor would see the statues and the place of their original position on the acropolis at the same time. On the ground floor, the excavated antiquities have been taken into account and have become one of the main features of the building. I found in general that Tschumi's solution shows sensitivity to the location. The building itself gives the impression of being quite a simple, cubist, light and bright structure. I fail to see how this is so alienated from Greek culture.
It seems to me that mr. Salingaros is more interested in political colours rather than the architecture of the building he is critisising. I am sure there are plenty of 'sort of':'communist', 'marxist', 'socialist' architects out there, so the argument that the architect's political views rather than his proposal favoured him is naive. I agree there is always some kind of political influence, especially when it comes to public projects, national/international awards etc.If this is the case, though, could it be that mr. Salingaros' political views also influence his own judgement?

Posted by: Eleni Drogaris on March 16, 2004 9:52 AM



While the topic of Greek Politics is vast and unfathomable, it is necessary to disentangle the Acropolis Museum from a uniquely political coloration. I felt I had to refer to Tschumi's politics only because the media make so much out of his supposed political leanings (I have no idea if the man himself wears his politics openly). Good architecture is totally independent of any political affiliation or dogma -- a lesson we have learned from both Leon Krier and Christopher Alexander.

Opposition to this project is surprisingly a unifying point for several distinct political parties. For example, in a parliamentary debate on May 2, 2002 Members of Parliament Antonis Skyllakos and Liana Kanelli severely criticized the Government-sponsored museum project. They stated that their party was opposed to the construction of the new museum, and that the possibility of returning the Parthenon Marbles was used as a pretext for a "race" to complete the Museum. These two MPs were not from the New Democracy, but from the KKE -- The Communist Party of Greece. In separate action on March 1, 2004, the Synaspismos party (an independent Greek political party on the Left) announced its opposition to the Museum, and communicated this to the European Parliament via its Eurorepresentative.

As for the supposed merits of Tschumi's design, those will be presented in a critical analysis of the project, which I am sure we will see soon.

Posted by: Nikos Salingaros on March 17, 2004 1:29 PM



It's too bad that Aris Konstantiinidis is not alive. I'm sure that he would provide a critique similar to the one that he gave the previous winining entry for the Acropolis Museum competition. A disaster!
He called it the cyclops and at the end of his booklet critique he has a print of Odysseus and his men blinding the cyclops. I wish the same could be done with Tschumi's proposal. There is a virtual tour of his design on the BBC website. Just search for the Acropolis Museum. Here you can see how this huge place will feel with its oversized columns. To me it seemed as confusing and ominous as the main Paris metro station. It also looks cheap which is also a problem with Tschumi's homage to the Melinkov, the pavilions in Par de la Villette. The large tonue like roof that projects towards the acropolis is shown as a place to relax and eat. However, it is a huge concrete expanse with no cover. A bad combination for a city with temperatures over 100 deg. F! Unconsciously this "tongue" may be Tschumi's jesture to classical architecture. Judging by the progress of talks to return the Elgin marbles this place may just gather dust. And may end up being another black hole for Greece's wallet, just like the Olympics. I hope it gets set aside by Karamanlis's government.

Posted by: John Rozdilsky on May 6, 2004 2:30 PM






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