The Military Academy building complex, located in a central part of Athens (Pedion Areos), consists of a large number of buildings built between 1900-1904 on the design of German architect Ernst Ziller. The architecture of the several independent buildings is representative of eclecticism. In the early 80’s, after the Military Academy had relocated elsewhere, the Ministry of Public Works launched seven design-build competitions for the conversion of the Military Academy buildings into law courts. V.K. Sgoutas Design Group were the architects of the team awarded three of these contracts that consisted of six buildings with a total built area of 8550m².
The design was carried out in three stages and involved the conversion and renovation of five listed buildings into law courts of the first instance and the conversion and renovation of one building into a cultural centre and exhibition area. As the site is set within one of the largest green “islands” of Athens, special attention was paid to the landscaping of the areas between the buildings in order to minimise hard surfaces and maximise planted areas.
Externally, the character of the original buildings was respected, only necessary interventions being made. The aesthetics of the internal areas (law court halls, access and waiting areas) were kept austere to be in keeping with the façades and the function of the buildings. The buildings that formed part of the other four competitions were similarly treated by their architects, resulting in a unified whole that vindicated the Ministry’s rather bold decision to house law courts inside independent listed buildings.
One of the reasons why the overall project works well in practice is that the spaces between buildings effectively become open-air circulation and informal meeting areas of a quality that is totally different from the often congested equivalent spaces inside conventional single building law courts.
V. K. Sgoutas Design Group