Thessaloniki, Greece has a rich history. Early Christian and Byzantine monuments, churches, and public buildings, with neoclassical and Baroque architecture, all contribute to the formation of a culturally diverse urban environment. Among them, completely modern edifices (such as the New City Hall) enhance the diversity of the city's urban structures, while controversy has surrounded them since day one.
The structures that would I personally recommend to any visitor (or resident) of Thessaloniki are the following:
- The Old building of Faculty of Philosophy, A.U.TH.-1887, by V. Poselli;
- The “Villa Allatini” - 1896, by V. Poselli;
- The Malakopi Lodge -1904, by V. Poselli;
- The Modiano Market -1922, by E. Modiano;
- The YMCA bulding -1924, by M. Deladetsimas;
- And last, but not least, the Museum of Byzantine Culture -1996, by K. Krokos.
The city hall, the most prominent public structure and the “crown jewel” of every city, might sometimes be reduced to a house of mundane paperwork-related tasks. But what happens when there is an open invitation for the construction of a new city hall? Do we RSVP positively …and make it our city’s “plus-one?"
There is no doubt that the New City Hall of Thessaloniki makes a strong architectural impression. Designed by the architect T. Mpiris a decade ago, it appears dominant, and is massive in scale. Both the shape and distribution of the building’s areas were designed to provide a reduced sense of size. However, the architect had to face some negative feedback and criticism, particularly regarding the size and the not-so-ideal location of the structure - among the Byzantine Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
The city hall consists mainly of two contemporary buildings, connected in a way to form passageways; something that, in my personal opinion, upgrades the area. Furthermore, the entrance stands quite impressively, with its level-height differences, reflecting pool, and pillared central building (reminiscent of an Italian “broletto”) daring you to enter the building.
Despite the fact that the City Hall has been a controversial project for the citizens of Thessaloniki, no one can deny its role in promoting the architectural level of the city’s public buildings.
How would you describe the public buildings in your country? Is there an example that you would like to share?
Credits: Photographs by Dafni Dimitriadi. Data linked to sources.