THE STAVROS NIARCHOS PARK
Linked by an ecological concept, physical topography and functionality to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, the Stavros Niarchos Park is a vital green space, a breath of life for Athens and an important addition to a city with the lowest per capita green space in Europe. A respite from urban concrete, the Park provides opportunities for learning, recreation, rest, and new experiences.
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 the nearby circular Labyrinth. The Park is ideal for the capital’s children, who can play undisturbed in its playgrounds, but also for all citizens 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 makes 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 brings a new color, and each season introduces 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 the Opera, 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: the 900 m2 glass-walled Lighthouse, a space for people seeking a quiet area to read and reflect or to appreciate the view but also an ideal space for events and exhibitions.
The spectacular features of the Stavros Niarchos Park are not all earthbound. Soaring 14 m above the summit there is a 100m x 100m photovoltaic canopy. An engineering and construction wonder, supported by 40 sinewy metal pillars, the canopy makes a fascinating addition to the city skyline.
At ground level, a tree-lined pedestrian Esplanade runs parallel to the glass façade of the structure. Alongside is the 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.