Greek architects see red over grey Omonoia square

Greek architects have blasted the Athens city council for going ahead with restoration works at Omonoia square, in the heart of city, without consulting them.

The Athens city council started work on the square without informing the Architects Council, which consults local government authorities, in breach of Greek law, say architects. But with municipality elections set for May, some experts believe that the Athens city council sidestepped architects to save time and rush through the project in time for the polls.

The Architects Association of Greece, which numbers some 12,700 members, said on Thursday that it is "unacceptable" that the renovation work has not been signed off by the Architects Council, nor the environment and cultural ministries.

It is not possible for work to take place at the country's most central square without any prior approval from architects and the assessment of possibly illegally built structures , said the group in a statement. The work should be halted, it added.

The renovation work at Omonoia is considered to be of a minor scale, mostly focusing on a clean up of the square, rather than structural changes, say Athens city officials.

Although much of the center of Athens has become popular in recent years among locals and tourists, Omonoia remains a no-go zone for many.

Drug dealers and drug usage can often be spotted at Omonoia, particularly after dark. Once a highly visited square that featured green lawns and flower beds, it now consists mainly of grey concrete and metal structures.

Several attempts in the past to change the square and revitalise Omonoia, which means peace in Greek, have failed despite its key central location. Ways of improving the square have become a key election issue among those running for mayor at the upcoming elections.

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