Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Structural Designer

Expedition Engineering|Omete

Client Name

Stavros Niarchos Foundation


Athens, Greece


Renzo Piano Building Workshop Architect


Arup Mechanical and Electrical Engineering design


Faithful and Gould Project management and cost consultancy


Impregilo–Terna (Joint Venture)
Penelis Main contractor’s structural engineer

Images: © Yiorgis Yerolymbos, Michael Denance, Expedition Engineering


A new home for the Greek National Library and National Opera, the Center has already become a hub for regeneration in south-central Athens, and features a number of engineering innovations.

A super-slender, lightweight ferrocement canopy roof is raised on slender columns over the whole building, and carries a huge solar panel array – a modern counterpoint to the Acropolis. A network of seismic base isolators helps the structure survive earthquake conditions. Each isolator is so large that only one laboratory in the world could test them.

Judge's comment:

The heart of this project is the ferrocement canopy that generates energy from the sun. But this is not the only sustainability focussed aspect of the project; reinforced earth retaining walls and localised stone columns save both money and carbon, whilst ferrocement is an old material configured in a modern way. A highly ingenious combination of traditional skills underpinned by modern knowledge delivers a stunning project.