The Concert Hall Gardens
The Concert Hall Gardens |

The Concert Hall Gardens are open to the public from 10am to sunset each day. The hope is that with their greenery, flowers and trees the gardens will attract people of all ages, who will find somewhere to relax and escape the demanding pace of the city and make the gardens a second home – one offering a wealth of cultural and educational activities organized by the Concert Hall.
The first musical events staged in the gardens were enthusiastically welcomed by the public. Perhaps the most unforgettable occasion was the concert by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Riccardo Muti. No fewer than 4,000 people, seated on benches or lying on the lawns, among the orange and carob trees and the acacias, under the Attic sky, enjoyed the concert relayed live on giant screens.

The design
The main intention of the gardens’ planners was to create a natural setting where a number of focal points would be arranged within open spaces – the latter as large as possible.
The contours of the site were designed to harmonize with the surrounding streets, the layout of the adjacent Eleftherias Park and the monument to Eleftherios Venizelos. Another key parameter in the design was the need to allow for rainwater run-off.
The public entrances to the building complex and the gates to the park determined the main axes of movement through the park and the disposition of the various green spaces.

In planning the disposition of the various green areas the planners took into account the aesthetic and functional demands of the site, as well as the surrounding ecological environment. Walkers would be free to stroll through a park that has the same structure as the area around the Venizelos statue, consisting of clusters of trees and bushes complemented by spacious lawns.
The vegetation would consist predominantly of lofty trees, but there would also be shrubs and climbing plants. Preference was given to indigenous species that would thrive in local conditions, but there would also be more exotic plants of special aesthetic appeal, able to adapt to the bio-climatic conditions of the site.
In choosing the species to be planted, special emphasis was laid on evergreens such as carobs, acacia, orange and magnolia trees, with care taken to ensure that at any time of year some of the trees would be in flower. The mimosa, yellow jasmine, viburnum and mahonia flower in the winter months. Early in spring, the ornamental plum-tree, Japanese quince and forsythia come into bloom. The planting of laurel along the fences bordering the gardens was decided on functional – preventing noise pollution – as well as aesthetic grounds.
In brief: in the creation of the park, which occupies 4.5 acres, consideration was given to the general and specific ecological conditions of the location, the aesthetic requirements of the individual site and the need to ensure that the various events and activities staged here could proceed smoothly and efficiently.
The choice of ornamental plants was based on their individual characteristics, the ecology of the location, the functional purpose they are required to serve, the local micro-climate, the need to ensure aesthetic and biological balance among the various species, and the dimensions of the site.

A substantial contribution to the creation of this important open space in the heart of Athens was made by the Onassis Foundation, which made a major donation to the Friends of Music in June 1999. This assistance allowed the landscaping of the grounds behind and around the Concert Hall, to create a unique green space in the city centre, designed to host a range of educational, cultural and environmental activities.

Designed to the highest specifications and worthy in every respect of the cultural centre they surround, the Concert Hall gardens offer the public what we hope will become a valued place for encounters, reflection, leisure, cultural and educational activities.

The first concert in the Athens Hall Gardens this year will be: “The weird and the pure”

photos: Haris Akriviadis

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