A Technological Heart for an Emblematic Opera
The Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center in Athens rises majestically on an artificial hill, linked to a delightful, green promenade. Designed by Renzo Piano, it houses the Greek National Opera, with two theaters with a capacity of 1,400 and 400 respectively, and the Greek National Library, a treasure trove of over 750,000 volumes. The imposing building cuts a balance between monumentality and lightness, almost seeming to lift off beneath the giant solar canopy that rises above the complex. The Cavatorta Group manufactured and supplied the 195,000 sq.m of welded steel mesh needed to build the double shell of concrete-and-iron panels on the roof. The low-carbon welded mesh supplied by Cavatorta had 63 different types of cuts and was made of polished metal wire with elongation properties of 5% and an average strength of 500 newtons per square millimeter. The result is an ideal balance between of toughness and elasticity - characteristics that were essential for the success of the project. Each panel has its own specific curvature, making it necessary for the welded mesh - with eight different layers - to be assembled manually. Thirty slender steel columns support the canopy. An advanced damper system allows the structure to move in response to the wind, and any seismic or thermal stress. The top of the structure is covered with 5,560 photovoltaic panels capable of generating up to 1.5 megawatts of power. This engineering achievement is a synthesis of aesthetics and technology that produces a structure filled with strands of meaning: artistic and cultural promotion, regeneration of an unused site, restoration of the link to the sea, and the relationship between an emblematic building and the urban surrounds.
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