Located in the southern part of Lycabettus hill, Athens, the Mediterranean Center of Climatic Research (MCCR), is a destination, a promenade, an observatory, a thermal engine, a data center, a lab, a research center, a theater and a balcony. In the context of Climate Change in an era more and more aware of its decaying environment, the Observatory serves as mechanism through which the visitor explores one of the richest parks in Athens, but also the least visited, experiencing the four elements and the architecture of a contemporary Mediterranean metropolis.
The project functions in two stages for the visitor. One is prompted to follow the winding path that leads to the Observatory and consequently enter a promenade. In this promenade the visitor through the simple act of naive observation is leaded through spaces that represent and embody the qualities of earth, water, air and fire, coming to a physical relation to the climate of the city that changes at any given moment. The research and digital information is located in the tilted slab, which the visitor only interacts with in the end of the promenade, where simple observation turns into knowledge. The slab is divided in four areas that concern the four departments of research formerly performed in the IERSD. The Atmospheric Environment, Meteorology and Hydrology, Climate and Climate change and Energy compose the spatial organization.
The larger openings to the roof correspond to views towards specific important buildings of the city as beacons of orientation though the aforementioned labyrinth. The small circular openings that form almost a constellation on the walkable roof function as light sources for the winter sun. The building achieves high percentage of thermal autonomy though the introduction of two systems that allow for heating and cooling during the winter and summer respectively. Heating is produced through the data servers that are located under each slab of the amphitheatrical interior, covered by shutters that control the heat emissions and a chimneys that expel the hot air during the summer. Cooling is produced by taking advantage of the aithsioi, the strong summer winds that enter through adjustable openings in the north side of the
The project turns into a folie in the park where the limits of public and private are blurred. The visitor becomes an explorer that is lead to knowledge by virtue of moving and observing. The building is populates a hill otherwise not often visited, and adds to the cities points of orientation. Through its position, it solidifies as an index of the rest of the beacons within the Athenian Labyrinth, while bringing to the fore an intimate understanding of the climate and environment in the contemporary polluted Mediterranean city.