The National (formerly Royal) Garden in Athens is a significant national monument, and a favorite space for Athenians and visitors. Created in the 1840’s, it has served as the Palace garden, as a public park, even as a burial ground. Administrative changes over the years have meant periods of better or worse management. A neighborhood committee has in the past done significant work to save the Garden. Still, the current condition necessitates the restoration of historic elements, the amelioration of spaces used by the public, and the development of a 100-year management plan.
A private donor is financing strategic operations for the Garden. In collaboration with Louis Benech, doxiadis+ has undertaken a strategic study which focuses on a preliminary management plan, and the restoration and amelioration of eight significant places in the garden. The proposals include planting designs that more closely approximate the ones historically existing in the Garden. That facilitate management, freeing up resources for the important work of tree maintenance. That restore decrepit structures such as the wrought-iron pergolas. That re-establish the main visual axis from the old Palace, now Parliament building. And that restore the restrained beauty of the historic Garden.
The proposal, connected to the same donor’s intention to sponsor a limited, custom curated art biennale in the Garden, is supported by the Municipality of Athens. It has initiated an animated debate on the use of private funds to maintain public space, and the suitability of contemporary art in a historic garden.