Infographic: Panos Konstantopoulos
In the 1860’s the Bavarian Johann Fix (a Hellenised version of the German surname Fuchs), who had settled permanently in Greece, develops an interest in the brewing industry and establishes the FIX Brewery in the area of the modern Neo Iraklio. Escalating demand at the time leads to the need for larger facilities. Thus, the brewery moves from Neo Iraklio to Kolonaki and then the decision is made to move the brewery to Syngrou Avenue.
During this time, at the end of the century, development in the area has yet to take off. The new plant, which is large for the time, is erected on the western bank of Ilissos, not far from the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Over the years this original building would be expanded in line with the increased business of FIX.
In the mid-1950s, in the framework of the industrial resurrection of Greece, the Fix family decides on a ground-up redesign of the plant. The project is entrusted in 1957 to the architect Takis Zenetos (1926-1977), one of the major exponents of post-war modernism in Greece, in collaboration with his colleague Margaritis Apostolidis (1922-2005). The architect’s aim is to integrate the old factory’s successive extensions without disrupting production. According to his overall philosophy, he strives to create a flexible design capable of changing and adapting to future uses and different circumstances.
The industrial building on Syngrou Avenue is completed in 1961. The architect’s design is a sharp and lucid summary of the principles of modernism: dynamic forms, clear and austere lines, large openings and an emphasis on the horizontal axis. The linearity of the façades combines with the scale of the project to give a sensation of the building extending to infinity, while its extrovert nature is reflected in the way the factory’s operations are visible through the large expanses of glass around the building at street level, where the machinery is installed. This pioneering edifice imposed itself on the haphazard, characterless cityscape of post-war Athens and became a landmark of great architectural and sociological importance.
In the late 1970s production is transferred away from Athens and the building is left idle. In the ensuing years the Fix building remains unused. The wear-and-tear in both the interior and the exterior shell and the installation of advertising panels distort its character amidst increasing concerns about its preservation and utilisation.
In December, 1994 a compulsory expropriation on public benefit grounds brings the building under the ownership of Attiko Metro S.A. The northern part of the building is demolished to make room for the subway construction works, and the adjacent metro station is built and opened in early 2000.
In February, 2000, following conversion work in the building’s ground floor, the Ministry of Culture and the Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation organise the exhibition Yannis Tsarouchis, Between East and West. The same year this facility is turned over to the newly-established National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) as a temporary venue. It is eventually decided for the remaining part of the old FIX brewery to become the Museum’s permanent home, and a 50-year lease is signed in 2002 between Attiko Metro S.A and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
After an architectural competition, the project of refurbishing the building is assigned to 3SK Stylianidis Architects, I. Mouzakis & Associate Architects, Tim Ronalds Architects and K. Kontozoglou as an associate of 3SK.
The building’s two façades on Syngrou Avenue and Frantzi Street are classified as ‘listed’ and must remain intact, and this was a main parameter in the new museum’s internal layout and operation. According to the architects, the course of Kallirrois Avenue along the bed of river Ilissos inspired the design of a large perpendicular surface of roughly-hewn marble that leans against a wet wall/waterfall. The fourth side of the building, towards the Metro station, is not treated as a façade but as an unfinished structure awaiting completion after the demolition of the old part of the Fix brewery. The internal layout is based on a large circulation area that runs parallel to Syngrou Avenue. The escalators and lifts are placed in this area to form a pronounced diagonal axis that leads from the reception areas on the ground floor to the open-air spaces on the upper floor, connecting all exhibition areas. The museum’s two entrances, the main one on Kallirrois Avenue and the secondary one of Syngrou Avenue, also establish a diagonal path along the ground-floor plan. The multilevel staircase and the escalators form a luminous circulation space that spans the entire height of the building. The specifications for exhibition spaces dictated their positioning in the part of the building with the most advantageous dimensions, on the Kallirrois Avenue side. These spaces lie behind the façade whose main entrance marks the new museum.
On the 7th and 8th of May 2015 EMST moved its administrative offices and its equipment on the first floor of the new building, thus taking the first step towards the opening of the museum.
Building Restoration Timeline
November 15th 2011
Signing of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens between EMST and the construction company ACTOR.
October 14th 2010
Completion of the Design for the Architectural-Geometrical Plan of the existing condition of the Museum Building.
September 29th 2010
The Board of Directors of EMST decides upon a New Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project ‘Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens’ after the default declaration of the Contractor from the Project Contract.
July 15th 2010
Pursuant to n 5835 Decision of the Single-Member Court of First Instance of Athens, the Contractors Temporary Injunction against EMST is rejected and the default declaration of the Contractor from the Project Contract as well as the forfeiture of quarantees are confirmed.
In the framework of the Project Contract settlement, after the declaration of default of the Contractor, and the preparation of New Tender Issues for the construction of the Museum building, the Board of Directors of EMST decides to assign a Design for the Architectural-Geometrical Plan of the existing condition of the Museum Building.
June 30th 2010
Pursuant to the decision of the Board of Directors of EMST, a five-member Legal-technical Committee of consultative nature is designated in order to promote the procedures for the completion of the Museum Building and all relative legal issues.
January 18th 2010
Hearing of the Contractors Temporary Injunction against EMST, before the Single-Member Court of First Instance.
December 11th 2009
The Single-Member Court of First Instance Temporary Order, orders the suspension of the 5/11/2009 decision of the Board of EMST and non forfeiture of the Contractors guarantees.
December 4th 2009
The Contractor brings a Temporary Injunction to the Single-Member Court of First Instance against EMST, requesting the suspension of the 5/11/2009 decision of the Board of Directors of EMST, non forfeiture of the Contractor guarantees and Temporary Order.
December 1st 2009
The 5/11/2009 decision of the Board of Directors of EMST, which rejected the Contractors objection to the default declaration from the Project Contract, is notified to the Contractor.
October 9th 2009
The Contractor lodges an objection to the 1/10/2009 default declaration from the Project Contract.
October 1st 2009
The Project Manager declares the Contractor defaulted from the 26/6/2007 Project Contract.
August 18th 2009
Pursuant to Article 5.6 of the General?? Obligations Agreement, a ‘Special Call’ is sent to the Contractor.
Due to significant delay in the delivery of the Project, the Board of Directors of EMST, during the 21st July 2009 meeting, decides to send a ???Special Call??? to the Contractor.
May 2008 – August 2009
Tardy progress on the executed works of the Project by the Contractor. By the end of July 2009 the executed works represent less than 10% of the anticipated by the Contractual Issues.
November 25th 2008
A Supplementary Contract is signed between EMST and the Contractor. A 208-day extension is given to the Contractor for the completion of the Project: ???Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
April 22nd 2008 & May 08th 2008
Clean certificates are issued by Plinios A.E. Company.
February 29th 2008
Works for the removal of dangerous materials begin.
September 26th 2007
Works are ceased after sbestos is found in the building.
July 2007 – September 2007
Preliminary works are held by the Contractor for his installation in the building site.
June 26th 2007
Signing of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens in a special ceremony, attended by the Minister of Culture Mr. Giorgos Voulgarakis.
The contractual time for the completion of the reconstruction works is two years that is on the 25-06-2009.
June 5th 2007
Invitation to the lowest bidder of the Tender, the construction firm under the name BIOTER S.A. called hereinafter the Contractor, to sign the Contract for the Project: ???Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
May 2nd 2007
Pursuant to the Letter of the European Commission at the present stage there is no sufficient clue to prove violation of the European Union law on Public Contracts, regarding the issues of the complaint.
November 11th 2006
AKTOR S.A., the third lowest bidder construction firm, lodges a complaint to the European Commission against the Tender Procedure for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
October 4th 2006
Decision of the Single-Member Court of First Instance which rejects Temporary Injunction of the firm AKTOR S.A. Procedures for the construction of the Building are continued.
July 4th 2006
Hearing of the Temporary Injunction that AKTOR S.A. brought against the decision of the Board of Directors of EMST, according to which the construction firm BIOTER S.A. was pronounced temporary bidder of the Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
The Board of Directors of EMST declares the construction firm BIOTER S.A as the lowest bidder of the Tender and as the Contractor for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Second Stage of the Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art. The following 9 construction firms submit their financial offers: AKTOR S.A., EKTER S.A., BIOTER S.A., ATHENA S.A., ANASTILOTIKI S.A., MICHANIKI S.A., ERETVO S.A., EDRASI C. PSALLIDAS S.A., TERNA S.A.
February 22nd 2006
Decision of the Single-Member Court of First Instance of Athens which rejects the Temporary Injunction brought by the firm ENTECHNOS S.A. against the decision of the Board of Directors of EMST, according to which, ENTECHNOS S.A. is excluded from further procedure of the Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art
January 12th 2006
Pursuant to the decision of the Board of Directors of EMST the following 10 construction firms are designated to participate in the Second Stage of the International Restricted Procedure Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art: AKTOR S.A., J & P ABAX S.A., EDRASIS C. PSALLIDAS S.A., BIOTER S.A., ERETVO S.A, ATHENA S.A., ANASTILOTIKI S.A., MICHANIKI S.A., TERNA S.A., EKTER S.A.
The Third Stage of the Architectural Design (Application Design) is submitted.
First Stage of the International Restricted Procedure Tender for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Submission of expression of interest folders by the following 15 construction firms: EKTER S.A, AKTOR S.A., J & P ABAX, EDRASIS C. PSALLIDAS S.A., BIOTER S.A., ENTECHNOS S.A., ERETVO S.A., ELTER S.A., MOCHLOS S.A., INTRAKAT S.A., ATHENA S.A., ANASTILOTIKI S.A., MICHANIKI S.A., GANTZOULAS S.A., TERNA S.A.
October 6th 2005
Invitation to International Tender (Restricted Procedure to be conducted in two stages) for the award of the Contract for the Project: Construction of the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Second Stage of the Architectural Design (Final Design) is submitted.
The First Stage of the Architectural Design (Initial Design) is submitted.
Discourse upon the transformation of FIX building into exhibition space of EMST.
January 28th 2005
The National Museum of Contemporary Art presents an exhibition with the Special Preliminary Designs of the Tender for the award of the Contract for the Design of EMST.
December 13th 2004
The Design Development Contract is signed between EMST and the bidding partnership: IOANNIS MOUZAKIS AND ASSOCIATES-ARCHITECTS LTD, STUDIES OF TECHNICAL PROJECTS, PAN. BABILIS AND ASSOCIATES LLC, INSTA.
Pursuant to the decision of the Tender Evaluation Committee, the first prize is awarded to the bidding partnership: IOANNIS MOUZAKIS AND ASSOCIATES-ARCHITECTS LTD, STUDIES OF TECHNICAL PROJECTS, PAN. BABILIS AND ASSOCIATES LLC, INSTA.
The Museum’s Board of Directors approves the result of the Tender Procedure and awards the Contract for the Design of EMST to the first prize winner.
Special Preliminary Designs are submitted by seven architectural firms.
December 19th 2002
Invitation to Architectural Tender (Restricted Procedure to be conducted in two stages) for the award of the Contract for the Design of EMST.
November 11th 2002
After an Open Tender Procedure, the assigns all necessary Project Management Services to a Project Management Firm under the name Ellinotechniki S.A. to monitor and review the Design and the reconstruction of the Museum building. The process of recording the existing condition of the building begins, along with the planning of the Museum’s building program.
3SK STYLIANIDIS ARCHITECTS
3SK Stylianidis Architects are based in Athens. They have realized projects of high specifications and they are active nationwide and abroad. The study group is based on creative deign and has great and acknowledged know-how of materials and construction. Their projects cover design as a whole: public buildings, cultural centres, theatres, museums, offices, shops, working spaces, banks, hotels and big tourist entitys as well as mansions, both individual and in complexes. The group has extensive experience in the construction of big projects which are particularly demanding, as far as time is concerned.
BArchHons, AADiplHons, RIBA III, ArkUK, TEE
Collaborated with Tim Ronalds (1982-1988). Her last project, the Jacksons Lane Theatre won the 1988 The Sunday Times-RIBA Community Award, sponsored by the Prince of Wales.Upon her return to Athens (1989) she joined T.Spanomaridis and I.Zachariadis as a partner for a year, before starting her own practice, Axis Mundi Architects. In 2003 she formed,with A. and B. Stylianidis and K.Sionis, 3SKStylianidis Architects. Since 2010, she hasbeen operating as a free-lance architect, both in Greece as well as abroad.Has been teaching design at numerous schools, 1982-today(AA, GSD-Harvard, UBC-Canada, Academy of Fine Art-Vienna). Currently Adjunct Professor of Architecture at UWA, where she teaches the Athens Studio,(1994-today).
TIM RONALDS ARCHITECTS
Tim Ronalds Architects area renowned in Great Britain due to their many distinctions, as well as the high quality work they provide. The studio specializes in composite constructions and reconstructions of existing edifices: buildings for the arts, theatres and cultural centres. Some of their recent works are: The Landmark, a building – museum for a wider area in Ilfracombe comprising a theatre and a visitor’s Pavilion ( RIBA, 1999), the Mick Jagger Arts Centre, the Brighton College Arts Centre ( 1st prize), the restoration and reconstruction of Hackney Empire Theatre, London, the new musical stage in Watford, Salisbury Cultural Centre e.a.
I.MOUZAKIS & ASSOCIATES-ARCHITECTS LTD STUDIES
I. Mouzakis & Associates-Architects Ltd Studies comprises of architects, who have worked together since 1972 providing architectural services in a wide typological range and large scale of building constructions. Its architects have great experience in composite and specialized projects both in the Public and private sectors, in every phase of study and realization of the undertaken works. Their experience covers the fields of Residence, Education, Industry, Office and Administration, Hospitals, Tourist and Sports Facilities, Solar Energy Applications, Research, Air stations.
The Architectural Design
On the banks of the river Ilissus (presently Kallirrois Avenue), just a little further from the fountain of Nymph Kallirroe, EMST comes to inhabit one of the most remarkable samples of Greek Modern Architecture, the old FIX brewery, a work of the architect Takis Zenetos. Something new is being born through such intercourse. The facades designed by Takis Zenetos on Syggrou and Frantzi are maintained. The two new views of the building reveal and restore the forgotten topography of Athens. The “section” of Ilissus, namely water, the river bed with the sedimentary bed rock as it has developed after such centuries- long subsidence, appears again, it “re-emerges” from the soil and is suspended as a giant “curtain”- within its folds the Museum exhibition spaces lie hidden. In is lower part and on the ground floor level, a water wall slides into the vacuum between the volume of the exhibition and the ground.
Today the FIX building “floats” amidst a sea of vehicles. A narrow pavement, which encircles it as far as the “wake of the boat” and the area of the Transit Station constitute its surrounding space. As it lacks in space outside, this is offered inside, within the interior. The Museum returns to the city what it has taken away: a foyer and a space of “epic” dimensions (almost 30 m high), which reveals perpendicularly in the interior of the building “the archaeological findings of the plot”: Zenetos’s view on Syggrou. From the top floor one can reach the first level of the chamber and hence move up to the Sculpture Gallery from the outdoor. The latter inhabits the “ground” of a garden-labyrinth, which reveals furtive views to selected points of Athens.
The Museum as an edifice is not a tabula rasa where it is unimportant whether one is in Helsinki, Barcelona or London. It is a significant element of the preservation of the city’s collective memory. The past, as it is maintained in the Fix building cannot naturally be kept intact; if so it would be a Fix building museum. But the fact that the building has now been constructed to serve another purpose and is transformed into a Museum of contemporary art signifies that the space bears the memories of the period of its birth and it is hence enriched.