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Many buildings in Athens need urgent repairs to 'stay alive'

For the first time in two decades, Athens invests massively in architectural heritage

For the first time in two decades, Athens invests massively in architectural heritage

Most of the buildings in the city were built before the 1970s and have been left to chip away and collect soot on their unique facades

Yesterday, local authorities in Athens launched what they deemed a ‘mammoth’ programme to renovate the city’s architectural heritage. More than half of the buildings in the Greek capital were built before the 1970s, while six out of ten in the city centre were built before the 1960s.

Many of these historic structures have been neglected over the years, with their paint faded, facades chipping away or collecting layers of soot from car traffic. Furthermore, the last time city officials instituted a similar programme was 19 years ago, just before the Greek capital hosted the 2004 Olympic Games.

After the market crash of 2008, the Greek economy started shrinking, while consecutive governments have had to balance different flavours of austerity for around 15 years, preventing many public projects. Interestingly, according to the World Bank, the current Greek GDP is lower than it was in 2003.

Nevertheless, local authorities have decided to allocate 1.5 million euros to the programme, incentivising private owners to take the initiative.

Build back greener

According to a statement by the city, the funds are supposed to help restore, maintain and aesthetically upgrade building facades, as well as fund greening projects for facades, gardens and roofs. Furthermore, they should also go towards projects that aim to ‘liberate’ buildings from added elements that alter their architectural style, giving colour, light and life back to the Athenian urban environment.

The programme will cover applications from homeowners from all private buildings in the municipality, including detached houses, duplexes, apartment buildings and listed cultural heritage sites.

The maximum amount of a subsidy for repairs, repainting and etc. is capped at 6,000 euros. At the same time, in cases where buildings need restoration work on plastic ornaments and the like, the subsidy could be as high as 7,200 per building.

Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis was quoted in a press release, saying: "The old and worn buildings of Athens, including many of unique architectural beauty and history, which for years had been left to their fate and were covered by the grey of pollution, will be able to gain new life on the canvas of the city.”

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