Athens Airport Among Greek Buildings Up for EU Architecture Prize

A Greek airport extension, library and museum are among the nominees for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award for contemporary architecture.


At least three Greek public architectural projects have been included in the first phase of nominations for the Mies van der Rohe Award for 2022.

These are: the extension of the south wing of the International Athens Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (a work by the Tombazis and AVW architectural studios); the new library of the School of Philosophy of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (by architects Bouki Babalou-Noukaki, Antonis Noukakis and Theano Fotiou); and the new Basil & Elise Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens (a work by Vikelas Architects).

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

International Athens Airport – South Wing

The new building at the capital’s international airport is also the first extension to the airport in its history. The aim of the architects, according to their description of the project, was the creation of a structure that would fit in harmoniously with the existing environment; it wouldn’t appear out-of-place with the existing buildings, while also adding a sense of renewal.

The new five-level building has a synergistic relationship with the existing complex; it maintains the same key heights and style of the older buildings. The impressive facade with its 77 open blinds reflects the sky according to the light conditions; the sharp corners and dynamic geometry offer a gesture of integration to the building complex and operates as a “prequel” to the existing structures, despite being designed 20 years after the initial construction of the airport.

The construction of the new wing was overseen by the company Basil and its lighting was designed by Eleftheria Deko.

School of Philosophy Library of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The Library of the School of Philosophy of NKUA, with a total floor area of 5,254 sq m, was completed in 2018 and has already picked up distinctions at the 2020 DOMa Greek Architecture Awards.

According to the architect’s description, the building is characterized by its harmonious and discreet inclusion in the landscape of the university campus, appearing as a natural extension of the School of Philosophy.

The roofs of the library are coated with copper and the curved sections resemble an open book, while the rare book section has the form of an austere orthogonal block calling to mind an ark with precious contents. The open area of the courtyard is lined by the multimedia rooms and is the space where all of the main entryways into the library converge.

B&E Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art

This museum effectively involved the realization of two objectives: the restoration of a heritage building and its conversion into a museum with the addition of a modern extension. The new building has seven floors above ground and five subterranean levels, which are home to the exhibit items of the collection, a restaurant, gift shop, workshops, administrative offices and an amphitheater for events.

The densely built urban environment led the architects to design the facades in such a way as to make the height of the new building appear less imposing. The three-story heritage building protrudes in front while the new addition appears to recede as a distinct mass to the rear.

Natural light enters the building through skylights in the extension and through the glass elevators.

About the Award

The Mies van der Rohe Award is the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture and is awarded every two years to completed projects by European architects.

The award ceremony planned for 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic and, according to the Mies van der Rohe Foundation which organizes the prize together with the European Commission, the prize will be awarded in May of 2022 following two phases of nominations, the announcement of a shortlist of candidates and the final five finalists.

The nominated projects are selected by local architectural associations (in Greece this is by the Greek Architects Association – SADAS-PEA) and independent judges.

Aside from the three public works above, accomplished Greek architectural studios are also seeking spots in the second phase of nominations for impressive private architectural works.

While the latter nominees have been informed of their selection by the Mies van der Rohe Award committee, their names have not been publicly released.

Even so, we have managed to identify the following nominated projects: the Dexamenes Seaside Hotel in the Peloponnese by K-Studio; the country home Salamis in Salamina by the studio Architecture Research Athens (AREA); the Lap Pool House on Tinos by Aristeidis Dallas; the residence Parallel House in the Cyclades by En Route Architects; a home in Kratigo on Lesvos by b-group; and a residence in Livadia of Hania, Crete by PALY Architects.


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