The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a multifunctional and environmentally sustainable education, arts, and recreation complex which comprises of the 210,000m2 Stavros Niarchos Park, the new, state-of-the-art facilities of the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO). The SNFCC is an exclusive donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.SNF.org) to the Greek state.
The SNFCC was created for the public and was purposefully designed to facilitate access to all, including people with disabilities. The mission of the SNFCC is to enrich the everyday lives of Greeks and attract millions of visitors from around the world.
The site of the SNFCC is located 4.5 km south of central Athens at the Kallithea Municipality and is owned by the Greek State. Following discussions with the Ministry of Environment and Public Works and the mayor of Kallithea, the consensus emerged that the site was the most appropriate available piece of land for the construction of a project of such magnitude.
The construction of the SNFCC begun in 2012 and was completed in 2016. On February 23rd, 2017, Stavros Niarchos Foundation delivered the SNFCC to the Greek State.
The Greek National Opera has already been relocated to its new home at the SNFCC, thus opening a new chapter in its long history and developing further its multifaceted activity as an artistic and educational organization.
The process of the relocation of the National Library of Greece (NLG) is currently underway. More than 1 million books and magazines with more than two centuries of history, plus a multitude of rare handwritten transcripts from the 9th to the 19th century are on their way to the new NLG facilities at the SNFCC, while the Reading Rooms and the Public Computers areas are already open to the public.
In addition, visitors of the SNFCC have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of free athletic, educational and cultural events organized by SNFCC SA. These events are made possible through the exclusive support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The aim of these events is to give visitors a chance to stroll through the SNFCC’s facilities and become actively engaged with its programming potential.
The SNFCC, as a whole (buildings and open spaces), can accommodate up to 32,000 visitors at any given time. Of these, 4,000 visitors can be hosted in the buildings of the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO), including performance halls, lobby areas, the Lighthouse, etc.
In 2009, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation signed a contract with the Greek State, agreeing to assume the total cost of building and equipping the SNFCC. The contract was ratified by the Greek Parliament. The total cost of the SNFCC reached $867/€630 million, including two grants of $6 mil (€5mil) each to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera respectively, aiming to support the organizations’ transition to their new facilities. The grant is one of the largest donations in Greece’s history and it is the SNF’s largest single gift, since the beginning of its activity in 1996.
During the construction of the SNFCC, the aim of the SNF was to ensure the sustainability of the project by reducing the functionality costs in favor of the Greek state, even if that meant a higher capital investment. For example:
- The design of the buildings enables the minimal waste of water and energy sources, by using sustainable technologies. Some of them are the recycling of non-drinking water in the NGO building, the use of energy efficient lamps and EMS green energy management systems.
- The “Green Rooms” which insulate the building naturally, reducing energy costs.
- The Photovoltaic Canopy which covers most of the SNFCC’s energy needs.
- The plants in the Stavros Niarchos Park are all resilient, endemic varieties that can endure periods of drought, further reducing water usage. Also, this selection benefits the local microclimate. The water used for irrigation does not come from the public system.
- The selection of the building materials was made with the long-term sustainability of the project in mind.
- State-of-the-art facility management systems that ensured efficiency and lower operating costs were implemented from the beginning of the construction (BIM/Revit model).
Consistent with its goals of advancing education and the arts, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation decided in 1998 to fund the construction of a building for the National Library of Greece, whose collections were housed in three separate locations and upgrade the facilities to enable access to learners of all ages, provide research and information resources, and connect the National Library to other Greek and major libraries in Greece and throughout the world. The concept was presented to the government, which expressed its support. Independent of this initiative, the SNF was considering a proposal to rebuild the premises of the Greek National Opera. The Foundation saw an exciting possibility to merge its disparate plans—one that was a perfect synthesis of its mission and commitment to Greece and could provide a lasting and transformative impact: to include the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, and a cultural park in one site, and bequeath to the Greek people a great civic, cultural, educational and environmentally responsible landmark of international stature.
Renzo Piano, an internationally acclaimed architect (www.rpbw.com) undertook the architectural design of the SNFCC. He achieved worldwide fame in the 1970s with the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and has produced critically acclaimed cutting-edge buildings around the world since, including the regeneration of Genoa’s old port; the redevelopment of Potsdamer Platz in Berlin; the Kansai International Airport Terminal in Osaka; the remodeling and expansion of The Morgan Library & Museum and the New York Times’ new building in New York; and the Parco della Musica Auditorium in Rome. In 1998, Renzo Piano was awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor. The selection of the architect for the design of the SNFCC was the result of a thorough evaluation of multiple candidates by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Board of Directors and its advisors during the course of a closed international architectural competition. The Board remained focused on the candidates’ overall commitment to the excellence of every aspect of the SNFCC, their professional eminence as reflected by past success in relation to projects of similar scope and visibility, and their demonstrated respect for the history and culture of Greece. Renzo Piano fulfilled all of these requirements.
The Salini Impregilo-TERNA joint venture undertook the construction of the SNFCC. The specific joint venture was selected through an extensive process following international standards, whereby leading Greek and international construction companies were invited to submit their bids. The tender process to select the contractor lasted a total of 10 months, and involved eight companies. The fundamental prerequisites for the commission were the quality and safety of the project’s construction, based on the final architectural plans, strict adherence to the project’s budget and schedule, as well as the contractor’s experience, know-how and financial viability. The decision to assign the project to a joint venture that included a Greek company expressed the SNF’s original intent, for the construction of the SNFCC to bring significant and immediate economic benefits to the country.
The Stavros Niarchos Park covers 85% of the SNFCC site and is approximately 210,000 m2—doubling the green surface per capita in the surrounding municipalities of Kallithea, Moschato, Nea Smirni, and Palaio Faliro. In addition to improving the air quality, one of the Park’s ecological functions, as it relates to the site, is that it provides a green roof, minimizing the energy required to heat and cool the buildings. The Stavros Niarchos Park provides a respite from urban concrete and will function as an oasis that serves as a source of daily inspiration and discovery for visitors of all ages. One of its most important functions is its ability to knit the surrounding communities back together. One of its most integral features is the Great Lawn, which offers a venue for concerts, festivals, films and other events that are included in the monthly SNFCC program of events.
The new state-of-the-art facilities will allow the National Library of Greece to broaden its mission and scope by assuming a dual and expanded role; it will continue to be a research and study center for academics and students, but it will also function as an all-inclusive public resource, offering a variety of educational and cultural programming to children and adults, based on similar projects that have been successfully implemented in public libraries across Greece and abroad. The NLG will also become an important venue for exhibitions of its holdings, as well as other traveling exhibitions. Selections of the NLG’s manuscripts will be exhibited on a rotational basis, affording visitors the opportunity to view Greece’s treasures and cultural heritage.
The Greek National Opera now has a true world-class opera and ballet theater—its first home ever. The main auditorium’s (Stavros Niarchos Hall - 1,400 seats) world-class acoustics and mechanical capabilities can accommodate the most demanding international and local productions. The facilities also present the GNO with opportunities to strengthen its educational and outreach programs, while a smaller experimental theater (Alternative stage ,474 seats) can host more intimate and avant-garde productions.
An essential link between the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera is the Agora, an outdoor public meeting space between the entrance portal for the National Library and Opera lobbies. The Agora extends vertically at the SNFCC. Atop of the Park summit, visitors encounter the Lighthouse, a 900 square meters, glass-walled Room offering an incredible view of the nearby sea and visual link to the city. Soaring above the summit and extending outward from its perimeter is a Photovoltaic Energy Canopy that provides power for the facility and has become a landmarked addition to the city skyline.
Alongside the SNFCC is a wide Canal, a figurative extension of the adjacent sea, which can also function as an anti-flooding window for the whole site.
The SNFCC is open seven days a week, from morning until night.
At the SNFCC, visitors are able to attend cultural events and participate in educational programs, organized by SNFCC SA. Admission to all events is free thanks to the exclusive donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Thus, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Stavros Niarchos Park, admire the SNFCC’s brilliant architecture and become part of its programming potential.
At its new premises, the Greek National Opera has the potential to further its multifaceted activity as an artistic and educational organization through its productions covering a wide artistic spectrum: Opera, Ballet, Experimental Projects, Children's Performances, Educational Programs, Public Benefits and Preparation of the next Generation's Dancers are only some of the productions and projects realized by the GNO.
Moreover, the GNO will also operate a dance school within its facilities.
The NLG, apart from its research department, which aims at the development of academic excellence, will also have a Public department, the aim of which will be the promotion of reading and creativity through innovative educational programs and services.
The Public Department of the NLG in the SNFCC will include specially designed areas, depending on the age of the users or the specific activities that will take place in each of them. Consequently, there will be a Video Gaming section, a Media Lab, a recording room and areas specially designed for children, but also for adults of different age groups. These areas will include the Entrepreneurship Center, an area that will act as an incubator for ideas and business initiatives, both through the availability of spaces and through the services it will provide. Furthermore, inside the “book castle”, visitors will be able to attend performances, seminars and other type of events.
At the Stavros Niarchos Park, visitors can participate in educational activities, enjoy cultural events, have fun at the playground, go for walks or picnics. Also, from the top of the Hill, at the Lighthouse visitors are able to enjoy a panoramic view of both Athens and the sea. At the same time visitors can visit the SNFCC’s catering facilities to enjoy coffee or a meal.
Yes, many areas of the Stavros Niarchos Park and the building complex are designed for hosting exhibitions. Indicatively, exhibitions will be hosted at the North entrance and the trails to the west of the Park, at the banks of the Channel, at the Agora and the Lighthouse, as well as selected areas of the Library and Opera buildings.
All events currently organized by the SNFCC are free of charge, thanks to a donation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. In the future, there may be a participation fee for some events, depending on the size and implementation cost of each program. The educational programming of the NLG and the GNO will take place in accordance with the operational procedure of each organization.
The NLG, apart from its research department, which aims at the development of academic excellence, will also have a Public Lending department, the aim of which will be the promotion of reading and creativity through educational programs and innovative services. The Public Department of the NLG in the SNFCC will include specially designed areas, depending on the age of the users or the specific activities that will take place in each of them. Consequently, there will be a Video Gaming section, a Media Lab, a recording room and areas specially designed for children, but also for adults of different age groups. These areas will include the Entrepreneurship Center, an area that will act as an incubator for ideas and business initiatives, both through the availability of spaces and through the services it will provide. Furthermore, inside the “book castle”, visitors will be able to attend performances, seminars and other type of events.
Yes, according to the current operational procedure of the NLG.
Yes, in all indoor and outdoor areas, including the areas of the Stavros Niarchos Park.
As of the February the 23rd 2017 Delivery event, the SNFCC belongs to the Greek State, which is now responsible for its exclusive control and operation.
SNFCC SA is a non-profit, limited liability, special purpose company, which was set up in order to coordinate the design, construction and outfitting of the SNFCC. After the completion and delivery of the project, the one and only share of SNFCC SA was transferred from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to the Greek State. Now, the role of SNFCC SA, is the supervision, maintenance, storage management, organization and operation of the SNFCC, as well as the operation and maintenance of the Stavros Niarchos Park. Furthermore, SNFCC SA organizes educational and cultural events that take place at the Stavros Niarchos Park, as well as in other spaces around the SNFCC, in consultation with the GNO and the NLG.
The plants are watered by the method of drip irrigation and the irrigation schedule is set according to seasonal variations. Irrigation water comes from drilling, and not from the public network. The plants which have been selected are drought-tolerant Mediterranean species, and do not have large irrigation requirements. This choice, like many others, was made by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in order to ensure the sustainability of the SNFCC, as well as the lowest possible maintenance costs.
Providers/suppliers for the SNFCC’s services (such as parking, catering, giftshop, etc.) are selected based on the functional design and operational procedure of the Cultural Center. All competition/tender procedures are private, and SNFCC SA reserves the right to call on any companies it believes will fulfill the requirements.
Food & drink service points are in operation in SNFCC:
Agora Bistro (Agora) Monday-Sunday 08.00-00.00
Canal Café (Visitors Center) Monday-Sunday 09.00-01.00
Pharos Café (Lighthouse) Monday-Sunday 09.00-00.00
*Operating hours subject to change when the Lighthouse is hosting events
Park Kiosk (Park) Monday-Sunday 08.00-20.00
Mobile food carts are also available in outdoor areas alongside:
Coffee Van οn tour: 09.00-21.00 Juice Van on tour: 09.00-21.00
SNFCC Store is also in operation at the SNFCC while an e-shop will also be available soon.
In regards to permanent positions, stay informed on possible future job openings by visiting the appropriate section of our official website.
The SNFCC has initiated a volunteer program. More information in regards to the program and participation you can find through the ‘Volunteer’ section in our website.
The SNFCC offers free entrance to the public seven days a week.
Visitors Center and SNFCC Reception: 09.00-22.00
Agora and Lighthouse: 06.00 – 00.00
Stavros Niarchos Park: 01/11-31/03: 06.00-20.00
Running Track, Outdoor Gym and Bicycle Roads: 06.00-00.00
In regards to the new establishments of the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece you can register on our website for an organized, free, 90-minute tours, as well as for the Stavros Niarchos Park.
The transition process of the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece is due to be completed in the Autumn of 2017. Meanwhile, the SNFCC organizes a wide range of free sports, educational and cultural events, made possible through the exclusive support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Visitors are welcome to find out more about our events by visiting the “Events” section of our website.
Currently, the SNFCC site can be reached by car or public transportation, including buses and the tram, by bicycle and the SNFCC free shuttle bus service .
For more information on your visit please visit the SNFCC website at the ‘My Visit’ section.
Pets can enter all of the SNFCC’s outdoor areas, except for the Great Lawn, the Labyrinth and the playgrounds. They should always be accompanied by their owner, who must keep them under direct and constant supervision and clean up after them.
The SNFCC offers guided tours of its award-winning building complex, home to the new premises of the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Online ticket purchase is available.
Guided tours for groups are available to educational associations, cultural organizations, NGOs and other groups. To reserve, please call (+30) 216 8091004 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Guided tours are available for groups between 12–25 persons.
The SNFCC welcomes primary and secondary school groups to its educational programs. To book your visit at an SNFCC's educational program, please call (+30) 216 8091005 or e-mail email@example.com. For groups of up to 25 students.