Filopappou Hill, Pikionis Paths and Pavilion

Filopappou Hill, photo: Fanis Vlastaras

Filopappou Hill takes its name from Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, a consul and administrator under the Roman emperor Hadrian; it is also known as the Hill of the Muses, and it is where Plutarch locates the battle between Theseus and the Amazons. Between 1954 and 1957, the area was redeveloped by the architect Dimitris Pikionis in collaboration with his students and local stonemasons. Together they improvised in the existing topography without recourse to paper plans, creating a series of linking pathways to the Acropolis. Plants indigenous to Attica were reintroduced, a pavilion built, and paths laid using stones salvaged from local buildings, both vernacular and neoclassical. The “critical regionalism” (per architectural historian Kenneth Frampton) of Pikionis’s method involved a relation to the land that was sentimental, synthetic, and wary of Western rationalism. The pavilion that adjoins the Church of Saint Dimitrios Loubardiaris, for instance, combines techniques gleaned from the stone foundations of the Acropolis with traditional Japanese building sensibilities. It has become the temporary home for a set of Elisabeth Wild’s small, brightly colored collages, their surreal landscapes disrupting any predictable visual logic. Nearby are Vivian Suter’s paintings made in the crater of a volcano on the island of Nisyros; some include direct traces of the natural environment—dirt, mold, and seawater. Further up the path is another monument to vernacular building: a hand-carved marble tent by Rebecca Belmore that looks straight onto the Acropolis.

Posted in Public Exhibition