Interview with Panos Kokkalidis, the architect!
First of all, you as a well-known architecture studio in Greece, how did you become part of the project “Repeat Fitness & Wellness Club”, here in Tirana?
The investitors and the administrator of this gym and wellness club, made the distinction between us and other studios. As we understood in the conversations we had and our architecture proposals, seems for us to have the same vision for the image and the functionality of the space that this gym has. Also, our long collaboration with the sport was very decisive in this relationship, because I have been part of the National Greek Team of rowing.
Which was your initial idea, before the final and the concrete project of Repeat Gym?
The main characteristics of the space, placed in the basement of the building, with access in the escalators, gave us the idea to create the gym functions in the closed and open space, round a core that represents the main usages. It is like an underground city with the stores, squares and his own parks, with the round runway that passes through all the segments.
Do you think you may have a several influences for the style of the project to implement the project into reality?
It is a combination of the elements that you come across in the Japanese architecture, like the closed small gardens, bamboo wood, round stones, and the other elements seen in different monopolies for example: neon signs, futuristic lightning in the hallways, the concrete and the visible mechanic installation.
Which is the most beautiful part of the interior created in “Repeat Fitness & Wellness Club”?
I believe the idea of the space, the division of it with the trees, meanwhile you land from escalators. Also the wood elements in the bar area, I think those are the most interesting elements used in the interior design of the gym. Of course I cannot forget to mention the pool area that is extraordinary relaxing and in the same time was a special challenge to be designed and constructed.
An ecologic environment that every client will feel in the heart of the nature. How did you manage to create it with the details you have used?
The columns and the beams are part of the construction that cannot be not mentioned. We have decided to take them off, so that the initial materials will be visible. In the architecture this is called “The honesty of the building”.
How will you describe the distinctive style as an architecture studio?
We try not to be known only for one specific style, and neither do we see architecture as only art, but we are guided by the principles of the modernity in design, where the forms follow the functions.
Are you concerned about the environmental and social stability in the buildings you create?
All our projects are designed keeping this in mind. In the buildings we design, we try to include the green technology so they reflect as less as possible as intensive-energy. Where it is possible, we use ecological materials in construction, and also the materials bought to the local vendors, with the focus of strengthening the local community. For example in this gym we have used ecologic colors, natural cement for the floors and we have placed a big green wall that absorbs the CO2 and releases oxygen.
And the last question: what inspires you the most in the style and your work nature?
Everything can be inspiring…Fashion, a walk in the city, the natyre, a movie, an object. Everyday stimulations that sometimes they touch our subconscious in the right time that transform into architecture.
Architecture studio “Whitebox”
This famous architecture studio was founded since 2002 in Athens, from Panos Kokkalidis and Aliki Triantafillidou, graduated in the department of architecture, University of Aristotel, Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2006, the architect Anna Drella became part of the team. Now the team has six architects and has a continuing collaborations with several engineers of different specialties, including the projection of objects with function of habitation, commercial, renovation. Including the projection and the production till the finalization of the projects.
Projects of the Whitebox studio are nominated even with national and international prizes, like the National Prize of Idea Tops space design (where the Stone House of Anavissos was namedone of the best projects in this category) and the 7th Bienale of new Greek Architects of Benaki Museum, ect.