The Ellinikon Experience Centre, the largest visitor centre of its kind
Lamda Development is launching The Ellinikon Experience Centre: the largest visitor centre of its kind to kick-start an ambitious €8 billion urban regeneration project near Athens, Greece – currently the largest project in Europe. Kasun Illankoon finds out more about this unique project and how it will inspire similar projects in the near future.
- Tell us about The Ellinikon Experience Centre project?
The Ellinikon is one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe, representing a multi-dimensional development on the Athens Riviera. In just a short distance from central Athens, The Ellinikon is unique in Europe for its location, its scale, size — three times larger than Monaco — as well as its potential. Athens’ former international airport site and adjacent coastal front will be transformed into a unique ecosystem enhanced for living, working and public enjoyment. In its centre will be the 2M sq.m. The Ellinikon Park, one of the largest coastal public parks in the world and a showcase for Greek heritage and biodiversity. At the southern edge of The Ellinikon site, 3.5 km of coastline will upgrade the Athenian Riviera offering a unique destination for, recreation and shopping. The Ellinikon will also integrate the most advanced ‘smart city’ technologies from the ground up, delivering improved safety, more efficiency, and a better quality of life. Careful planning comprehensive green strategies are being employed at The Ellinikon to ensure that it is one of the most sustainable real estate undertakings in Europe. Set in the heart of an established commercial market and blessed with the captivating location of the Athens Riviera, The Ellinikon forms a world class destination that will reshape Athens.
The future city of The Ellinikon, comes to life at The Ellinikon Experience Centre, where all of its elements are presented in immersive detail, via the use of state-of-the-art technology. Spanning 4,800 square meters in a former airplane hangar, designated as a Modern Monument by the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Experience Centre -one of the world’s largest Visitor Centers- offers five thematic areas and more than 22 unique natural and technological exhibits and digital activities detailing the project, from its use as an airport and air force base, to its stunning evolution into one of the world’s most innovative and ambitious urban development projects. Through a dynamic interactive experience, visitors can discover how the project is creating a global agora and a new model of residential, commercial, retail, recreational, and hospitality spaces and more through five themed areas, all of which represent different groundbreaking aspects of the project.
Visitors take in the entirety of The Ellinikon’s grand scope through the largest interactive miniature model ever created in Greece which includes more than 25,000 individual pieces at 1:625 scale. The Ellinikon’s greenspaces, next-generation designs, coastal lifestyle, and infrastructure projects, down to the individual streets and cycling paths, are captured in meticulous detail.
The guests of The Experience Centre can next cruise the panoramic views of the rejuvenated coastline, such as the 1 km open for all beach, the redeveloped Marina and other landmarks such as the Riviera Galleria, the Riviera Tower as well as the impressive seaside residential areas virtually aboard a simulated speedboat. Visitors will also discover The Ellinikon Park, Europe’s largest coastal park comprising two million square meters of vibrant green space and can take a virtual bicycle tour on 3 different routes. This exhibit also presents a Botanical Library simulating the prevailing flora of the park while the Night Garden Dome imitates the park’s nightlife through light strips, sounds and scents that feel as real as the world outside.
The future of living innovation awaits visitors in one of the state-of-the-art model residences at The Ellinikon where residents will enjoy premium comfort, smart technologies and uninterrupted vistas across the Athenian Riviera.
Finally, guests can see and experience the innovative technologies and infrastructures that will make The Ellinikon the global standard-bearer of resilient urban development, such as the transportation network that will make this development a mobile, 15-minute city; bioclimatic architecture; and the water level sensors that will prevent flooding and promote coastal resilience and many more. Visitors can touch, see, and hear what’s to come through a fully immersive and experiential journey. The voyage offered at the singular visitor center is fitting for a project that is truly unmatched and unprecedented.
- How will The Ellinikon transform Athens into an international leader of smart living and sustainable, low-carbon urban renewal?
The Ellinikon reflects a new paradigm of living and enjoying life by the sea. We’re bringing to life a new city within a city that places Greece at the forefront of smart living, sustainability and innovation. The site will feature a true ‘15-minute’ approach where everything will be connected by walk and cycle pathways, while electric vehicle facilities will be serving the entire development. Emphasis on electric transportation is in line with the project’s overall ethos to create a cleaner and sustainable environment for the future. At the same time, on-site opportunities encourage walkability and physical activity reducing CO2 emissions, through new extensive bicycle and pedestrian networks.
The Ellinikon Park, the heart of The Ellinikon and the largest coastal park in Europe accessible to all, will become a 2 million sq.m green oasis that will upgrade Athens and its coastal front for everyone to enjoy. More than 1 million new plants have been selected particularly for this environment, with 70% of them not requiring additional irrigation since they thrive in this region.
The Ellinikon Park’s system will feature the first “smart” park in Greece with seamless connectivity, AR navigation, smart transportation systems and smart energy and water management systems. The project will be a world leader in smart living – the convergence of human innovation and technological advancements creating the pinnacle of comfort, convenience, and creativity.
Other upgrades include the 3.5 km costal front with a 1 km sandy beach, where city residents and visitors alike can swim, exercise, and be entertained, transforming the area into a world-class high-quality destination. Significant infrastructure & marine works to future proof the project will be implemented in the area, while an environment monitoring plan for the marine environment is already in place, to monitor various parameters such as seawater quality, bottom sediment quality and benthic plant communities.
Overall, The Ellinikon will feature a variety of technologies to ensure a net zero carbon footprint economy and will be self-sufficient in terms of irrigation and electricity needs. A waste treatment plant will be developed within The Ellinikon site for the management of recyclable materials, strengthening Circular Economy. Moreover, the project will include innovation at every stage, for example one of the upcoming landmark buildings, the iconic Riviera Tower will be a model of sustainable architectural design and is the first project within The Ellinikon that has been pre-certified with LEED v4 BD+C at a Gold Level.
Overall commitments for Τhe Ellinikon include:
- LEED certifications for buildings (including LEED Gold certifications, SITE certification for landscape areas and WELL-certified offices
- energy efficiency to minimize carbon emissions
- embodied carbon reduction
- water conservation strategies to restore natural systems
- sustainable building materials to preserve natural resources and
- climate adaptation and resilience to future proof the development.
- Do you see more projects such as Ellinikon coming up in Greece?
Greece is currently in a state where many transformative projects are taking place in all areas and this is a good time for reforms and investments, especially those aimed at sustainable growth. At this point we are not aware of any upcoming urban regeneration projects of this scale in Greece, but we would be very happy if this example prompts similar initiatives who share our vision for a new way to live.
- Tell us about the challenges that you potentially face in building The Ellinikon?
It is understandable that a project of this scale presents various challenges, ranging from the construction side, as it requires meticulous planning, to dealing with unexpected issues, such as the potential scarcity of materials, price fluctuations etc.
For us, from the moment that we planned Τhe Ellinikon, our vision was to introduce a new way of life, where nature, people and the most advanced applications of technology will co-exist harmoniously. For this reason, we formed our internal team with leading executives in the field, but we also brought in an elite selection of world leading architects and engineers from all over the world, to work feverishly in ensuring the state-of-the-art implementation of this project.
While we await for many challenges ahead in this constantly changing international environment, we are confident in our ability to ensure that this landmark project delivers on its promise in all levels.
- What excites you about this project? When is the project expected to be completed?
What excites us most about this project is the opportunity it generates for Athens and Greece – both for our people and our economy. An opportunity for a planned, integrated, smart, sustainable development that will change the face of the Athens.
In terms of numbers The Ellinikon is expected to attract over 1 million tourists, bringing approximately €14 billion in incremental revenue to the country and contributing roughly 2.5% to Greece’s GDP. Additionally, once completed, 85,000 new jobs will be created.
Additionally, The Ellinikon will nearly double the existing green space per capita for Athenians, considerably improving their quality of life.
We also expect a knock-on effect on the quality of life for the municipalities which are close to the site – increasing the value which will be added to neighbouring municipalities.
At this point it is important to mention that for all the public spaces, Lamda Development bares the cost, so there is nothing allocated to the Greek taxpayer. We are proud that this project will create new, beautiful, green, open spaces and amenities for every citizen and visitor.
The first phase of the project, scheduled for completion in 2025, includes the coastline, all of the commercial elements such as the Commercial Hub -the largest and most contemporary commercial complex in Greece, and one of the biggest in Southern Europe- the Riviera Galleria an exquisite destination for retail and lifestyle designed by the innovative Kengo Kuma, situated in the upgraded marina and surrounded by 5-star hotels and the iconic Riviera Tower, as well as the largest part of The Ellinikon Park.
- Sustainability Projects are on the rise and even more regeneration projects – tell us why this is important and how does it benefit the construction industry?
The planet is warming at an alarming rate and as COP26 revealed, the world is still nowhere near its goals to limit the global temperature rise and achieve net zero. We share all a responsibility to assist on that goal and become more sustainable – be it at home or when constructing new buildings or large-scale projects like The Ellinikon. Reaching net zero involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and this needs to be the goal before and during construction as well as how the end product functions.
We have future proofed every aspect of the project, so once completed, The Ellinikon will act as a blueprint for the construction industry to inspire similar urban regeneration projects across the world.