Close your eyes for a moment; conjure an image of Greece—Athens to be precise. You’re almost certainly picturing great monuments from ancient times, and rightly so—few places on earth can lay claim to such iconic structures like the Parthenon standing tall atop the Acropolis. Its 58 columns carry the weight of rich history and culture that stretches back thousands of years.
But look beyond the millennia-spanning marble constructions and you’ll find that the architecture of Athens is also dominated by the modernist movement in the shape of “multi-houses” or apartment blocks dominating residential neighborhoods and beyond. In the first decades of the century, Greek architecture did not follow international trends.
That, however, changed rapidly as soon as Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier, arrived in Athens for the first time in the early thirties. On his way through the Balkans to the Bosporus with the aim of laying out the fundamentals of architecture he was mesmerized by the Parthenon, revisiting it again and again. He quickly regarded it as an architectural paragon, which would leave an indelible mark on his future work—and the cityscape of Athens: white concrete housing blocks with large windows and marble claddings started tying into ancient structures. Some distinct examples can be found in the form of schools like Dimitris Pikionis’s school under Mount Lycabettus or the ACS Athens Elementary School, which received a “Compliments de Le Corbusier” by Jeanneret himself when he visited the town during a congress.
Other examples for explicit Le Corbusier references can be found near Exarcheia Square: the famous Ble Polykatoikia (The Blue Condominium) designed in 1932 by Kyriakos Panagiotakos is with its series of covered and uncovered outdoor spaces actually one of most iconic buildings of Greek modernism. And still today, the movement dominates the crooked streets of the Greek capital, with some more contemporary examples.
Overlooking the Agias Irinis square, the Perianth in Agia Eirini is one of them. The interiors of the hotel are a celebration of pure Athenian modernism, as realised by local design practice Studio K. Curved lounge chairs are both simple and intricate all at once, aligning with the unique characteristics of the building’s exterior. Meanwhile, heavy marble tables are given a lighter, more natural feel through the addition of wooden surfaces. Terrazzo floors offer a literal coolness, forest green and ochre toned textiles that appear frequently throughout the hotel ensure that the hotel maintains a warm, intimate atmosphere.
The consistent focus on modern(ist), local elements also extends beyond the architecture and decor: upon arrival, guests and visitors are greeted by hotel staff in uniforms created by the Greek fashion designer, Sophia Kokosalaki, one of the final projects she undertook before sadly passing away towards the end of last year. The walls carry works from revered artists including the collagist Yiannis Varelas and the multi-disciplinarian Antonakis. With such a wealth of sensorial delights on offer in the Perianth itself, guests can almost be forgiven for seeing past its final, most striking feature. One glance out of the windows though is all it takes to become reacquainted with the core reason for visiting such a storied city; for staying in such a thoughtfully conjured hotel…the stunning view of the Acropolis itself.
Perianth Hotel is featured in the Design Hotels Book. The 2020 edition marks an innovative new editorial and artistic direction for the design anthology, created in collaboration with some of the world’s leading photographers.