The History of Gazi in Athens
The Athens Gasworks, French Company was established in 1857 following a Royal Decree issued by King Otto under a unanimous decision of the Athens Municipal Council. It was a time when the Industrial Revolution was beginning to make its appearance within the newly established Greek State which had been in existence for only three decades.
Following this Decree, Francois Feraldi was granted the right to establish and run a "gasworks" to bring light to the city. In identifying a site to house this industrial complex much importance was attached to its central location. The site chosen was on the main road to Piraeus at the third corner of the commercial centre of Athens which formed a rough triangular shape. In the plans drawn up by Kleanthes and Schaubert in 1833 (the original city plan) this site was to have been the location of Kekrops Square while in the 1834 plan prepared by von Klentze it was to have been the site of the Royal Palaces.
Later development in the wider area around the gasworks led to Pireos St. becoming established as one of the capital city’s main industrial areas.
The construction and operation of the gasworks took place in four phases:
A (1862-1887): The first buildings are constructed and machinery installed such as the retort furnaces (known as the 'producers'), gasholders for storing gas, chimneys, the purification hall, water tanks, warehouses and the manager's house.
B (1887-1920): The need for town gas expands and in addition to lighting the streets, homes and industries are added to the list of gas consumers. At the same time, the gasworks expands under new ownership (Serpieris and der Vol) in light of the 1896 Olympic Games. A new chimney stack, a series of retort furnaces, two gasholders, and buildings for the employees (changing rooms, baths, barbers' shop, etc.) are built at which time the site took on its present day.
C (1920-1952): German technology is introduced to improve the quality of the gas. A new production unit and a third chimney stack are added while innovative liquid gas production technology is also installed. In 1938 ownership of the gasworks is transferred to the City as the Athens Town Gas Municipal Corporation, when the contract with the French Company expires.
D (1952-1984): Despite the major expansion of the city in the 1960s the gasworks did not function at full capacity since the form of energy it produced was considered 'outdated'. In 1983 the process of producing gas from coal ceased and the network was linked to that of Hellenic Refineries at Aspropyrgos and production now took place using naphtha technology.
Continuing the operation of the gasworks, was considered anachronistic, not
only due to the pollution caused, but primarily because of its location in the
heart of Athens, near the Acropolis. In 1984 reactions from residents of the
city peaked and its operation was suspended.
The repair, restoration and re-use of the old buildings and landscaping of the open spaces at the gasworks were a complex process based around two principles: authenticity and utility. The social and economic importance of the gasworks and its important architecture has made it one of the main elements comprising the image of the city of Athens