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SKETCHBOOK #1 ATHENS

BY ELIAS MESSINAS

Excerpts from travel sketchbooks in Greece by architect Elias Messinas

© All rights reserved


Athens 18/7 Plaka Sitting at the balcony of the old Jewish Museum of Athens, before it moved to Nikis street at the Plaka. This is another Sunday walk through the wonders of the Plaka. I look at the carved marbles scattered on the ground near the Tower of the Winds… stones carved by a craftsman that has long past away together with his craft… I keep walking all day and I constantly find myself under the Acropolis looking at the Parthenon… I am in love with this part of Athens; the part of the memories; the part of nostalgia; the part of day-dreaming. The Acropolis has become like a point of reference to my explorations.

Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


The classical ruins have a unique relationship with the Greek blue sky. Here at the Erechtheion I can see the sky through the building, making it at the same time solid and transparent; it is both a building and a screen, a series of layers; it is rich, diverse and surprising.

Athens 4/9 and 7/9 The Acropolis

Back to the Acropolis sketching the Erechtheion and a year later the Caryatides. I couldn’t resist using my soft pencil instead of the sharp pen. to record the softness of the forms, the lightness of the composition, something that the pen cannot show accurately. I am looking for this feeling of lightness and sensitivity.

Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


Athens 9/9 Plaka Next to Kidathineon street in Plaka, I “discovered� Piranesi - Giovanni Battista Piranesi, one of the greatest Italian artists of the 18th century. I sketched this street having in mind a composition by Piranesi. The result was unexpected, exciting, and quite dramatic. The dark foreground and scenic dark frame, opens up to a bright background, where the subject of the drawing is located.

Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


Athens 10/9 National Technical University on Patision Ave.

How privileged are the Greek Architecture students to study inside this beautiful neoClassical setting; how unique! Like most neoclassical buildings it is laid out symmetrically, in a Greek ‘P’ form, creating a magnificent front courtyard that has marked modern Greek history. The building is beautifully detailed The overall composition is formal and imposing; however, the organization of the buildings is open, airy, moving, inviting, inspiring. Light and shade are dramatically captured in a summer afternoon, as they play with the rich architecture of the Doric order.

Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


Athens 28/8 Panepistimiou street and 10/9 The Library Many tourists tell me that they hate Athens. How can one hate a city with buildings like the Academy, the Library, and the University, all built in the 19th century in the best of the neoClassical style: fine details inspired from the Temples of the Acropolis, carved by skilled hands on the best of Pentelic marble. I guess one has to look in order to see this beauty… Start by looking at the marble floors and stairs. Then look at the carved window frames and freezes. Then look at the roofs and antefixa – in Greek ‘akrokerama’ – the vertical ceramic blocks that adorn the roof edges…

Trying out a glimpse of the Library in the Piranesi style…

Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


Athens 4/9 Stoa of Attalos, Ancient Agora An amazing space: a stoa; a covered street. The whole space follows a very rhythmical order: the first layer of columns in Doric order run in short intervals; the second layer in Ionic order, runs at double the intervals of the Doric columns; the beams follow the columns, and the doors appear every second Ionic column. All follow this strict system, like a music symphony in perfect tempo. A space of movement, rhythm, light and shadows. Copyright: Elias V. Messinas Architect


TRAVEL SKETCHBOOKS By ELIAS V. MESSINAS, ARCHITECT Greek-born practicing architect with a focus on sustainable design, graduate of Yale School of Architecture, Bezalel Academy and National Technical University of Athens. Author of books, catalogues, and numerous articles. Recipient of research and publication grants from Graham Foundation, WMF and the Getty Grant Program. Founding chairman of international NGO ECOWEEK. Elias’ sketchbooks are being written and sketched since the late 1980s and include sketches, drawings and notes from his travels in cities in Europe, the Middle East and North America. Elias’ sketchbooks have been exhibited at the Yale Art & Architecture (USA, 1990), the Athens College Theater (Greece, 1995), the Jerusalem Theater (Israel, 2002), and the Israel Museum exhibition ‘Journeys’ (2014-2015).

© All rights reserved


Profile for Ecoweek

Travel Sketchbook #1 : Athens  

By Elias Messinas Architect

Travel Sketchbook #1 : Athens  

By Elias Messinas Architect

Profile for ecoweek
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