Athens: Ecology + Environment + Architecture

Chapter meeting and conference

10-14 April 2008

Ecology (from Greek: οικος, oikos; “household”; and λóγος, logos, “knowledge”) is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how they are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment: sunlight, climate, geology, and other organisms that share its habitat.
Wikipedia

The term oekologie was, according to Wikipedia, coined in 1866 by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel.

Athens, where the term oikos was born, is the birthplace of Democracy and the cradle of European Civilization.

The architectural marvels of the Athenian Democracy, like the Parthenon on the Acropolis rock overlooking the city, and the c.19th neo-classical revivals, such as the Zappeion, following the re-birth of the Athenian Democracy (this time with a Bavarian King), remind us of times when cities and the surrounding environment were at balance.

Acropolis—image courtesy of Elias Messinas, Int'l. Assoc. AIA

Today, with a growing global population of 6.6 billion and technological advances that allow each individual to affect the environment, and collectively to release every day more than 70 million tons of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, it is clear that the balance which the Athenian Democracy and 19th century Athens were enjoying with their surrounding environment, has been altered.

Buildings, the products of architects, are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 70% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Modern Athens, a city which was laid out in the 1830’s as a garden city for 50,000 inhabitants, is home today for nearly 5 million people, almost half of the population of Greece.

The annual AIACE conference in Athens is not just a gathering of Greek, European and US architects and architecture students. It is a point in time when History and Ecology, Modern Architecture and the Environment, Ethos and Pathos merge.

Gennadius Library
Gennadius Library, —image courtey of Elias Messinas, Int'l. Assoc. AIA

With organizing partner Ecoweek, the participation of the British Council, the Embassies of Sweden and Denmark, One Planet Living, the American School of Classical Studies, Archi-World, The Community Solution, Earthome Productions, the expected participation of Google, the participation and support of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) and the participation of the International Union of Architects International Work Program Architecture and Renewable Energy Sources (UIA-ARES), this international architectural conference will have a message: a message delivered by architects and internationally acclaimed keynote speakers; a message delivered by world-acclaimed documentaries; a message that comes forward from the ‘green’ buildings’ exhibition during the conference and the ‘green’ initiatives at the Zappeion; a message that will be revealed in the guided tours within the rich historic context of Athens.

Among the distinguished speakers are: ‘green skyscrapers’ architect Ken Yeang, ‘landscape healer’ landscape designer Julie Bargmann of DIRT Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, Greek architect Alexandros Tombazis, and ‘BedZed London zero-emissions development’ director Benjamin Gill of BioRegional.

The message for architects to take home is to reconsider the way we practice architecture: each in our own office, each in our own country; all combined, in a new environmentally conscious way.

—Elias Messinas, Int’l. Assoc. AIA
 

This AIACE conference is made possible through the participation and cooperation of…

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