THE STAVROS NIARCHOS PARK
The Stavros Niarchos Park offers many surprises to its visitors. Its lush garden landscape, featuring a wide range of trees, plants, water fountains, allées, paths, playgrounds and open spaces, turns every visit into a unique experience. The visitors arriving to the Park from the streets of Kallithea to the north are greeted with the sound and movement of water jets. Guests can rest in specially designed seating areas or explore a nearby circular labyrinth. Children can play in creative playgrounds of innovative design. The Park is ideal for the capital’s children, who can play undisturbed in its playgrounds, but also for all citizens, who will be able to enjoy their leisure walk, exercise or attend concerts, exhibitions, and a multitude of other events.
Allées leading further into the Park, lined with tall pine and olive trees interspersed with smaller trees, create contrast between closed and open space, light and dark, color and texture. At the center of the Park is the Great Lawn, an open space for larger gatherings, which can also function as a venue for concerts, festivals and films.
Greece’s strong horticultural tradition is celebrated in the open, sunlit Mediterranean Garden. The plant palette alone will make the garden a destination: evergreen and other endemic plants such as boxwood, coronilla, cistus, and lentisc, salvia, oregano, thyme, lavender, rosemary, roses and euphorbias – all add to the sensual pleasure of a visit. Each month will bring a new color, and each season will introduce a different combination of flowers or foliage.
From the Mediterranean Garden, curving landscaped pathways wend their way up a gentle grade to a summit 32 m high. Beneath the earth is the building that houses the Library and Opera House, making the hill the green roof for the structure. One of the largest in Europe, the green roof significantly reduces air conditioning requirements. The summit offers spectacular 360-degree views of the sea to the west, the Acropolis to the east, and the cultural and educational park below, as well as of the Agora, the central plaza between the Library and the Opera House. Another prize awaits the visitors of the Park’s summit: a 900 m2 glass-walled Reading Room, a space for people seeking a quiet area to read and reflect or to appreciate the view. The Reading Room is in terms of functionality an extension of the Agora, and will become a place to organize cultural and educational events as well.
The spectacular features of the Stavros Niarchos Park are not all earthbound. The energy needs of the buildings will be met by a 100m x 100m photovoltaic canopy. Soaring 14 m above the summit, the canopy extends outward from its perimeter. An engineering and construction wonder, supported by 40 sinewy metal pillars, the canopy will make a fascinating addition to the city skyline. Coupled with other environmentally innovative designs and practices, the project aims to earn Platinum or Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the first such designation in Greece and the first for a project of this scale in Europe.
At ground level, a tree-lined pedestrian Esplanade runs parallel to the glass façade of the structure. Alongside is a wide canal, a figurative extension of the adjacent sea. The Esplanade readily accommodates people with special needs, and is suitable by day for running, biking, and other activities. Directly across the Agora and on the other side of the canal, wide marble steps offer a space for impromptu performances.
The Stavros Niarchos Park is designed with a principle of flexibility. As visitors become familiar with its usages, the Park’s structure will evolve to support the public’s new needs and preferences.