Aris Konstantinidis

Aris Konstantinidis (* 4 March 1913 in Athens; † 18 September 1993 in Athens) was an architect of functionalism who became known as the director of the Xenia programme for the construction of tourist infrastructure. Despite the modern formal language of his buildings, Konstantinidis saw himself above all as a continuator of the Greek tradition, which he understood less formally (in the sense of a style) than functionally. Kenneth Frampton therefore also saw him as an early and important representative of critical regionalism, even if Konstantinidis himself rejected this label. The architect represented a "rationalism tied to the concrete site. He also conveyed a sense of the value of the everyday" (Fabio Reinhart).

In this sense, Konstantinidis advocated the integration of his buildings into the landscape, climate-friendly construction (e.g. shadow zones between inside and outside) and the use of materials traditionally used in Greek architecture (especially stone) and colours (ochre, sienna, black, white and blue) as well as relatively small dimensions. His weekend house for K. Papapanayotou in the Athens coastal suburb of Anavyssos is considered a significant example of post-war modernism in Europe and at the same time a valid interpretation of a 'timeless' Greek building.

Konstantinidis saw his models - in the sense of 'timelessness' and 'truth' - primarily in anonymous, partly ephemeral buildings, such as the shanty houses built in the 1920s by refugees from Asia Minor on the outskirts of Greek cities, or the attached canopies of cafés and taverns. He rejected stylistic architecture in the sense of an outward appeal to tradition, on the other hand, as well as architectural internationalism. Above all, Konstantinidis came out sharply against the classicism of the 19th century, which he regarded as a bastardisation of Greek tradition.

For Konstantinidis, buildings were above all "containers of life" in which a free life should be able to unfold as far as possible in harmony with nature. In this sense, his hotels were also very spartan and came under criticism accordingly.


Aris Konstantinidis was born in Athens in 1913. His grandfather was the cyclist Aristidis Konstantinidis. From 1931 to 1936 he studied at the Technical University of Munich, then returned to Athens where he worked in urban planning and at the Ministry of Construction. From 1955 to 1975 he was responsible for the construction of social housing and from 1957 to 1967 he was head of the Xenia Programme of the Greek Tourist Board EOT. At the same time, he realised numerous projects for private clients.

After the junta seized power in Greece in 1967, he resigned in protest, accepted a guest professorship at the ETH Zurich and became a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The University of Thessaloniki later awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 1993 he took his own life in Athens.

He studied at the Technical University of Munich (1931-1936). In addition to being an architect, he was also a poet and photographer, with a peculiar personality that led him to distance himself from large official commissions and academic circles. He used to comment, quoting Dionysos Solomos, that architecture should be practised "by reflection and by dreaming".

From 1937, Konstantinidis worked for the Athens Town Planning Service, as well as for the Workers' Housing Agency, for which he built numerous residential complexes in various cities in the country. In 1957, he was also appointed director of the Research Office of the National Tourist Board, for which he was responsible for the construction of numerous hotels for the Xenia chain, including those in Kalambaka, Epidaurus and on the island of Poros. In the 1960s he built the archaeological museums of Ioannina (1963-1966) and Komotiní (1968-1970).

In 1967 he resigned from all his public posts in disagreement with the Colonels' Dictatorship and went into exile in Switzerland, where he was a professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

In addition to hotels and museums, his works include cinemas, shopping centres, exhibition halls and single-family houses; the latter, usually on the seafront, brought him great fame. Konstantinidis combined modernity and respect for traditional architecture, with an austere style devoid of decorativism and a construction technique based on a combination of stone walls, concrete beams and slabs, metal support elements and wooden galleries. For him, "the place and the site are the two basic data for creating a true architecture.

In 1950 he published The Old Houses of Athens, in which he made a defence of Greek popular architecture.

In 1990 he was awarded the Herder Prize by the Alfred Töpfer Foundation in Hamburg.

Aris Konstantinidis married the Greek sculptor Natalia Mela. Together they had two children, Dimitris and Alexandra. His son Dimitri Konstantinidis is also an architect.


The interest of Aris Konstantinidis, which was focused on the creation of a contemporary architecture that originated from the needs of his place, led him to study anonymous architecture in Greece and to publish three books (1947-1953), in which he analyses specific examples of anonymous architecture. His main books are: "Two villages from Mykonos" (1947), "The old Athenian houses" (1951), "Modern true architecture" (1978), "Studies + Constructions" (1981) and "Theochtitsa", the architect's last book. The realization of Konstantinidis' ideas is realized through the construction of a series of public buildings ,as well as smaller scale private buildings. His public projects include. Works by Aris Konstantinidis also include the pavilion of the Greek National Tourism Organization at the Thessaloniki International Fair (1960), the complex serving the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, as well as private residences, such as the detached house of diplomat and art critic Alexandros Xydis in Pagrati (1961), the holiday home in Anavyssos (1961-62) and the house and studio of painter Yannis Moralis in Aegina (1973). He also designed the tomb of George Seferis in the First Cemetery of Athens (1971).

The architecture of Aris Konstantinidis

The architecture of Aris Konstantinidis is based on the comfort and functionality of the spaces, the rational arrangement of the floor plan, the integration into the environment, the constructional excellence and the particular emphasis on each construction material. He forms a clear architectural language, through which he builds "Containers of Life", as Konstantinidis himself defines his works.

Buildings (selection)

  • Archaeological Museum Ioannina
  • Weekend house L. Eftaxias, Elefsina 1939-40
  • Social housing buildings OEK, Nea Philadelphia, Iraklio, Serres and Pyrgos, 1955-57
  • Xenia Hotel on Mykonos, 1960
  • Xenia Hotel Kalambaka, 1960
  • Holiday home K. Papapanayotou, Anavyssos/Attica, 1961-62
  • Xenia Motel in Olympia, 1962
  • Xenia Motel Iraklio, 1963-66
  • Xenia Hotel Poros, 1964 (now completely rebuilt)
  • Archaeological Museum Ioannina, 1965
  • Apartment building Karaoli-Dimitriou Str. 30, Filothei, 1971-73
  • Komotini Archaeological Museum, 1976
  • Hotel Theoxenia in Andritsaina (Elis/Arcadia)


  • 1947: Two Hamlets on Mykonos.
  • 1950: The Ancient Houses of Athens.
  • 1953: Chapels on Mykonos.
  • 1972: Container of Life or the Problem of a True Architecture.
  • 1975: Elements of Self-Knowledge. For a True Architecture.
  • 1978: True Contemporary Architecture.
  • 1987: On Architecture.
  • 1987: Sinners and Thieves or On the Taking Off of Architecture.
  • 1989: Prolegomena.
  • 1991: The Miserable Actuality - The Golden Olympiad - The Acropolis Museum.
  • 1992: Experiences and Events. An autobiographical narrative.
  • 1992: The Architecture of Architecture. Diary Notes.
  • 1992: Aris Konstandinidis: Projects and Buildings.
  • 1993: The God-Built.


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Aris Konstantinidis
Critical Regionalism
International Style
Kenneth Frampton


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.