Project team:

Client: Private
Architects: KLab Architecture / Konstantinos Labrinopoulos Athens/GR

05. Feb 2012

Placebo effect
A pharmacy with an impact in Athens/GR

Text: Petros Dermatas
Photos: Panos Kokkinias

In the foreword to the Greek edition of his book “Modern Architecture”, Kenneth Frampton suggested that no other capital in the world enjoys such a wide acceptance of modern architecture as Athens. In effect, Athens is stocked with an endless repetition of fairly indifferent apartment houses, the majority of which do not exceed six floors. This is mainly due to a law which restricts buildings from blocking the view towards the Parthenon, giving an overall human scale to the city’s architectural scheme. The Placebo pharmacy in Glyfada, a fashionable, upmarket suburb of Athens, stands out like a pleasant surprise in the otherwise rather dull modern-day Athenian cityscape.

Realised by the Athenian architects’ firm KLab Architecture (Kinetic Art of Architecture) in 2010, this 600 square metre high-end pharmacy undoubtedly has very little to do with your run-of-the-mill chemist’s. The project seems to have it all: concept, space, dedicated design, and most likely a sound budget. Pharmacy is derived from the Greek word “pharmakon”, meaning “drug” or “medicine”, whereas “placebo”, comes from the late Latin word meaning ”I shall please.” Today, we mostly identify the word with expressions such as ”the placebo effect”, that is to say the simulation of a medical intervention which nevertheless has beneficial results for the patient. KLab Architecture, who were featured by Wallpaper magazine in 2008 as one of the 20 hottest young architecture firms and are listed in the top 50 up and coming firms worldwide in their architects’ directory, played with the notion of the word “placebo”, as well as with the materiality or immateriality of the building, and came up with the idea of creating a virtual building – a placebo pharmacy. The pharmacy is located on Vouliagmenis Avenue, an important artery for the infrastructure of the city, connecting the urban centre with the suburbs of Athens to the south-east. Reflecting upon elements of constant motion and speed, the architects reformed the existing functional octagonal structure, which formerly housed a car showroom, into an exciting cylinder shape in an at-tempt to translate the properties of the space into a specific architectural expression and thus initiate a dialogue between Vouliagmenis Avenue and the design of the building. This was achieved primarily via a multi-layered facade system: the original angular facade of the car showroom first received a layer in the form of smooth curved perforated white steel elements. Bamboo panels provide a further layer of cladding in the upper section of the facade. […]


The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 80/81.

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