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Xenia Reloaded| A travelogue in the footsteps of Aris Konstantinidis

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Konstantinos Papaoikonomou
Oxford Brookes University, UK
“Architecture grows up from the earth surrounding it, architecture is directly related to the earth in the same way as a tree or a shrub.”
Aris Konstantinidis (1972)

This dissertation forms the basis of a design research project, investigating the relationship of architecture to landscape, in the specific cultural context of contemporary Greece. The aim is to recover aspects of material and cultural practice (particularly in relation to the landscape) that are otherwise disappearing or almost lost in the increasingly contradictory and brutalized building landscape of Greece. The photographic research methodology and design practice of Greek architect Aris Konstantinidis (1913–1993), and the national Greek Xenia hotel programme instituted in the 1960s are identified as sources for a new architectural project and response to this contemporary condition.

Through a historical analysis of Konstantinidis and the early Xenia hotels a fundamental question is formulated—how might the integration of traditional and modern architecture create functional spaces that both respond to contemporary needs and frame or highlight the beauty of natural landscapes?

A response to this question is developed through a photographic travelogue, informed by the methods generated in Konstantinidis’s recording of ‘anonymous architecture’, but responding to contemporary building conditions. The photographs of the travelogue survey six Konstantinidis’ Xenia hotels and the diverse landscape of the everyday, anonymous built and natural environment in which those hotels are located. The topography revealed in these photographs is utilized in the development of design proposals for the restoration and transformation of otherwise derelict or exhausted Xenia hotels.

The result of the research is the recovery and development of a key methodology for a significant architectural figure in Greek modernism and a new approach to the redevelopment of Greek tourism, which is sensitive to but able to reimagine the landscape, whether natural or built.

Konstantinos Papaoikonomou

Nick Beech
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