Thanks Ellie Stathaki from Wallpaper for this nice article about Atelier 66 which we produce as a limited edition print with illustration by Jana Trávníčková.
Here is text about this amazing modernist practice from Greece by Wallpaper architecture editor Ellie Stathaki.
I admit to being susceptible to the charms of a good old clean and geometric piece of modern concrete architecture. When this comes with beautiful execution and richness of materiality, a theoretical approach to match, the occasional splash of show stopping colour and the background of a warm Mediterranean climate, the picture comes close to perfect. And it’s always a bonus, when the subject is one of the lesser-known gems of modernity.
While relatively unknown outside their home country, Greek architect couple Dimitris and Suzana Antonakakis are a pair of the most influential names popping up in the local contemporary architecture history books, artfully translating locally Modern architecture.
Working together since 1959, the couple set up Athens-based practice Atelier 66 in 1965, which they founded together with architect Eleni Gousi Desylla. Their approach combines clean forms and modernist teachings and inspiration, adapted to the Greek climate and material palette, while distinctly incorporating colour and texture.
Their work ranges from cultural projects, like the beautifully modest and elegantly geometric Archaeological Museum of Chios Island, to colourful hospitality ones (like the Lyttos Hotel in Crete, 1979) as well as classic examples of the polykatoikies typology (standard Greek blocks of flats) – the apartment building of Emanouil Benaki Street (1973) in the Greek capital being a prime example.
It was indeed their residential commissions – multi- and single-family houses - that further defined their architecture, thoroughly modern yet at the same time routed to the country’s building vernacular. Coining their personal style with the early-days Oxylithos Residences (a series of 2 vacation houses on the island of Euboea, built in 1973 and 1977 respectively) they went on to create an extended body of residential work through the 70s, 80s and 90s. Among my favourites of the couple’s works are the House in Akrotiri (1978) on the island of Crete and the much later House in the Thrakomakedones area of Athens (1989).
Sparking the interest of renowned architectural historian Kenneth Frampton, a monograph on their work was produced by Rizzoli in the 1980s - now undoubtedly a real collectors item. Having exhibited work at venues as prestigious as the Centre Pompidou and the Palais de Chaillot in Paris and knowing their prominent role and position in their country’s architecture scene, it is would be no less than mere injustice to characterise their work as ‘obscure’. Yet I cannot help but feel that the Antonakakis couple’s work deserves more international credit.
Given the fact that so many equally interesting examples around the continent (like Belgian Juliaan Lampens, Brit Brian Housden or even fellow-Greek Alexandros Tombazis) remain similarly largely unknown outside their home countries (on some occasions, even their home towns), perhaps this is part of the fate and appeal of regional European mid-century modern.
More about Atelier 66 on the print which is available directly from us.