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The architect who changed the image of Greece

12 January 2010 / 13:01:52  GRReporter
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Ernst Ziller - the architect of 500 buildings, including the presidential residence, the National Theater and the City Hall of Syros island, breaks the elite ideas of his time on Greece can look. Ziller managed to change the face of Athens by making it more beautiful with splendid buildings, for which he is called the "poet of modernism in classical architecture”. 

Ziller is the first architect in Greece, who installs in buildings technical ventilation systems and central heating, replaces the store wooden window shutters in Athens with automatic ones and decorates buildings with molten iron railings with elements inspired by Greek mythology. 

The young Saxon architect arrives in Athens only when he was 24 years old. Initially, he was sent to Greece to supervise the construction of the impressive Athens Academy building, which was being built according to the plans of his Danish employer Baron Theophil von Hansen. Ernst Ziller quickly manages to engage in the secular life of the city and becomes a welcomed guest in the salons of the aristocracy. But he did not hesitate to confront the great interests of his time, for which he paid with his dismissal and bankruptcy. 

In his honor the National Gallery organizes an exhibition that will begin in late March and will continue until September. The exhibition will tell not only about the buildings he built, which have brought his glory, but about Ziller’s life and work, which have been left in the shadows. In the halls of the exhibition we will see the central square of Athens Kodziya with the emblematic Mela Building, the University of Ilium Melatron and other buildings built in Athens, Pyrgos and Egio. The works of art will be presented almost in their true size and in their rear part visitors will be able to see the original blueprints of Ziller presented by architect Vassilis Kolonas. 

Athenians started to like and accept Ziller because their eye already got accustomed to the modern architecture brought by the Bavarians, tells for Ta Nea newspaper the gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka. "Ziller’s blueprints leave Athenians speechless. They are elegant and are incorporating elements of Greek architecture in combination with Byzantine and Palladian - as Renaissance artists perceive and rediscover ancient times.” 

Except for the most famous buildings of the architect - town halls, theaters, markets, courtyards and palaces, the exhibition will present blueprints of buildings that were not built and ideas that have remained unrealized, like the one of making Lykavitos Hill in a pine forest city park. The 450 exhibits include rare photographs showing stages of construction of the Academy - when Ziller was very young architect, as well as letters, texts and a brief autobiography.

Tags: Ernst Ziller architect Athens Academy Syros Island
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