A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location. 45 years after the original design of the Piraeus tower by the architects I.Vikelas, G.Molfesis and A.Loizou, the invitation to redesign the facade has been a unique opportunity for Vikelas Architects to re-imagine the building with a brand new identity that highlights the importance of the port and the city.
Our proposal is an iconic statement for the current redevelopment of the city of Piraeus.
We envisioned the tower as a “beacon” on the modern urban skyline which transforms the natural elements of the surroundings into its architecture. The tower links vertically the water and sky by embodying the essence of a trip in the sea and blending harmoniously with the Piraeus port. Borrowing from the patterns of ocean waves and flying seagulls, the facade bears light undulating fins wrapping around the tower. Similar to a sailing ship, a mesh fabric is mounted on the fins and reduces the heat inside the building, while resisting the wind effect.
The new facade consists of two layers of cladding. The first one is a transparent curtain wall system that preserves thermal and acoustic comfort on the interior, while allowing for regular functional openings per grid. The second one is a rolling wave structure, created by tensioning a textile over a curvilinear steel framework, running along each level. The cantilever structure is supported by narrow maintenance corridors surrounding each level. The fabric, by nature of being a mesh, preserves outward visibility, while the curved structure frames the views towards the port and the sea.
The design aims to highlight the building both in daylight and at night by the use of rich lighting, that makes the waves glow in the dark. A sense of movement and visual interest reigns the building's formal identity, while the wavelength and amplitude is carefully manipulated to respond to specific criteria such as views, orientation and interior use. On the east and west sides of the building, vertical shading is more dominant, whereas on the south side the waves gradually progress into horizontal fins. A rather subtle bunch of waves forms the shell of the building's base so that the same formal language is kept without competing the tower's integrity.
The tower will become a modern mixed use office and retail building deserving a prominent and generous entrance and lobby area. The proposal suggests the transformation of the existing covered walkway into a glass atrium that will bring natural light to the core of the building's base, while shaping the base's fifth facade.
All in all, the design aims towards a dynamic pattern that avoids typical repetition and an organic undulating feel which amplifies the proximity to the water. The long lasting rigidity of the building is replaced by a formal flow, while the tower projects harmoniously on the Piraeus skyline.