NEW YORK – On April 15, the Greek Institute of Architects in New York (GIANY) presented: A Shelter for Architecture, a unique event at the Consulate General of Greece in New York. Featuring architectural exhibitions, discussions, presentations, and performances, the well-attended event drew a diverse crowd to explore the idea of shelter through three major components Dialogues, Cocoon, and Tectonics. Multiple speakers presented their ideas from the perspective of architecture, psychology, and performance in the Dialogues. The first panel began with an introduction by two of the event organizers and curators Constantine Bouras and Evita Fanou, both founding members of GIANY and on the Executive Committee of the organization that promotes the achievements of Greek architects in New York. Also in attendance, the other four organizers and curators of the event, architects Electra Kontoroupi, Ioannis Oikonomou, Foteinos Soulos, and Dimitra Tsachrelia who are all founding members of GIANY and Executive Committee members as well.
Architects and panel moderators Ivi Diamantopoulou and Parina Vasilopoulou presented the speakers. Emanuel Admassu, Assistant Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, and co-founder and principal of AD-WO and MI two design firms, offered Between Content and Container with animation showing the changing architecture in an urban marketplace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over time. Ignacio G. Galan, architect and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University and Chief Curator of the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016, spoke about Occupations in terms of the shelter available to refugees and asylum seekers all over the world whose temporary displacement often becomes a permanent situation. Dance artist, curator, dance educator, and Programming Director at Movement Research, Amanda Loulaki presented Finding Refuge, My Body, The Shelter, an investigation of the body as shelter with evocative photographs of her performances some of which included holding a pose for several hours. William Hirst, Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research spoke about Shelter as a Memory Palace, offering his thoughts on how homes become receptacles for personal memories for the people living there, whether they are peasants or landed gentry. The audience was invited to ask questions at the end of each panel discussion which created a lively atmosphere at the event.
The Cocoon was an installation of photographs suspended from large white balloons, an exhibition of the results of an open call for ideas on minimal habitat shelters that greeted those attending the event as they entered the space. Tectonics exhibited the professional work of current GIANY members. Among the architectural work displayed, a Brooklyn building by Eirini Anthouli, 465 Pacific Street with residential units and retail space will be completed in late 2016, A Space Opera by Michali-Karolos Keranis is a fanciful, dystopian future ship and shelter that would be at home in any science fiction film, and a Beach House overlooking Long Island Sound by George Kontaroudis will begin construction in 2016.
While enjoying Greek hors d’oeuvres and wine, the viewers were impressed with the designs on display and the amazing use of the space of the Consulate. Commonplace, a choreographed action curated by art theorist and NYU teaching associate Sozita Goudouna, was also presented, unsettling the notions of shelter for those in attendance with performers changing places and using hand gestures throughout the evening. Event organizer and curator Constantine Bouras mentioned that the initial planning for the event began in September with funding secured by January to bring together architects and those in the broader fields of academia, science, and performance for a multidisciplinary exploration of the concept of shelter through different lenses and perspectives.