At the limit- Museum of modern history of Istmus of Corinth


Isthmus of Corinth is a landmark in Greek area since the ancient time. Its drilling occupied engineers since the classical period to the late 19th century. All the attempts for its drilling during the ancient times failed due to the lack of know-how. Finally, during the 19th century the marine connection of the two gulfs is managed through an astonishing for the time process, in which worldwide fame engineers contributed. The connection of Corinthian and Saronic Gulf through the ancient Diolkos changed the maritime facts replacing the sailing of the whole Peloponnese. As a result, the drilling of Isthmus constitutes a landmark for the area, detour for the commercial ships and a touristic attraction for the passengers.

Nowadays the land connection of Main Greece and Peloponnese is managed through two national roads, railways and pedestrian bridge ,that unify the gap created by Isthmus. Moreover, at both ends of Isthmus, the connection is managed through emerging bridges for vehicles and pedestrians.

Due to the constant transit of vehicles, the area contains many buildings that serve the stopped drivers. In addition a long-distance bus stop exists besides the old national road in which busses stop constantly. These stops have also a touristic function, as they sell souvenirs of Isthmus and ancient Diolkos. The cultural value of the area and the landmark of Isthmus gave a boost for touristic developments. Though, the distance from the city center did not help any way. Thus, many hotels and commercial plans were abandoned and even constructions were left half-finished.

Additionally, the fast passage through the national roads and the railways does not allow the view of Isthmus for more than a few seconds from the inside of the vehicle. The pedestrian bridge is distanced far enough from the stops and thus the only opportunity for viewing Isthmus is given from atop the old national road, underneath of which extreme sports activities take place. The length of Isthmus along the slopes is partially managed through dirt roads.

Moreover, the ruins of the ancient Diolkos are left unprotected and shelterless, without any highlighting for the visitors, while the museum that was created for the specific monument is in distance and downgrades it even more.

Thus, the need for touristic highlight, the demands for protecting the cultural stuff that concerns the monuments of Isthmus and Diolkos, the need for sheltering  bus passengers, vehicle passengers, and the lack of cultural centers at the vicinity of Posidonia and Isthmia, led to the elaboration of the project “At the limit- Museum of modern history of Istmus of Corinth” to satisfy all the above.

Inspired by the particular topography of the area and the human interference that serve the maritime and land transport, we concluded  a structure of cultural character, transformed according to the needs,creating  shelters, adapting them to different weather conditions, and for the needs of the visitors, making the whole place functional through the whole year .


What prompted the project?

The area of the isthmus is a mechanical miracle of 6 km, from which a large piece of land was removed for the quicker passage of the ships. Furthermore ,  direct trade and transportation was achieved between  Europe and Asia. It was the desire of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, which was achieved in the late 19th century. So it’s geographic location with such a deep history has been a challenge for us to create a museum that would include all of history.

When documenting and researching the site what tools did you use?

By analyzing your site, we have noticed that all the project you had published had a strong theoretical background, and through it the creators of the projects analysed their ideas and solutions. Therefore, we did the same, the research , the many photos of the observations,  the necessities of the permanent inhabitants were for us the first tools.

How were your perceptions and data transcribed?

After collecting all of our observations, all the historical material from the architectural services we realised that there was no place where  a visitor could be informed about the history of the area, so we decided to portray all the information through three-dimensional programs. We made  direct changes  using the 3D models, we created an indoor building that had many references to features such as the sun, the shadows,  the wind, the streets.

What role did the medium of drawing play throughout the project?

The three-dimensional rendering was our basic guide for us. Through the experiments we made in the placement of spaces and materials, we created many visual images, like a virtual reality. This way allowed us to keep that feature of our interest and we developed our ideas about the shape the museum would have at the same time as the renders. When we reached the final stage, we had already created more than 200 pictures of renders, and this way allowed us to “be “inside the building constantly without leaving any building blocks and materials. Our intense desire to create a realistic synthesis has led us to design and perspective drawings and sections, based constantly  three-dimensional creation.

What is the effect and purpose of the overlaid grid?

While organizing our plans, we had problems with the placement of the building’s structural elements, and more generally the spaces that would host  our museum. The solution was  simple, based on a  technique that we learned in the early years of our studies, basically to create a grid that would  guide us to how to constract the  walls and paths in the ground plan. Therefore, this grid has determined our proportions, and we have placed it on top of most of the images in order to  determine the proportions.

What defined the language of representation through which you articulate your project?

Modern technology in the past decade, such as the digital walk through, image editing programs, and the fact that  the majority of the architectural offices produce and display high-level images, is now shaping a global architectural language that requires new tools and new navigation and presentation skills . We believe that only black-and-white drawings are not meant to give a full understanding of our thoughts, we have come to the conclusion that our ideas through the intense contrasts , the intense prospects of the rendrers, and the designs that seemingly seem old, will result in a complete understanding of all our thoughts.

How are differente approaches (axonometric, render collage) used to articulate and explore different facets of the project?

Each tool is an important way for us to better portray our ideas. Therefore, we intented to show  different thoughts and new ideas using the axonometric designs,  the collage, the other details with  the renders process. The ready-to-use picture is not very much analyzed by architects, because it is realistically depicted, and an axonometric design requires further analysis as well as a collage, so a presentation should have a gradual ascending rhythm in the presentation at the beginning, and a gradual descending rhythm towards the end. So, for someone who is interested in our project, we intented  not to give him lots of “ready”information,but to challenge him for further research.

How important is a digital portfolio for the contemporary architect?

As I mentioned before, it is a fact that we are talking about a new global architectural language. The internet has contributed greatly to the transmission of this pulse, so a new architect is, to a point, obligated not only to get acquainted with each other, but at the same time to be an inspiration for the others. Each creator has a unique approach to displaying his work to the public , and a digital portfolio makes this possible.

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How and to what extent does the mediation of images through the digital effect the way we conceive and draw?

For many years there were only plans made by hand(which must be studied by new architects) and most of them were and are shockingly amazing ,and made history. Digital projects on the other hand is a new reality. It is a new science that is constantly evolving, and although it  hides difficulties, for us, it is a new language that, for many years to come will prove its value so it will take time and patience to apply . In conclusion, it is a tool for the architects and designers that positively influences their way of thinking  and with the  use of  hand drawing can create amazing results.