The first efforts for the protection of industrial heritage in Greece started in the 1980s with the action of public administration services, research and cultural organisations. The first conference on industrial archaeology in the country was organised in 1986 (Agriantoni, 2003, 46-47, Louvi, 1999, 3). The bodies that played an important role, taking some critical early initiatives in favour of the Greek industrial heritage were the Institute of Neohellenic Research (INR) of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, the Cultural Technical Foundation of ETBA and the Ministry of Culture (TICCIH Greece and KAM, 2015).
The 1990s saw the systematisation of the initiatives for the documentation and protection of industrial heritage in Greece. The most important development of that era was the establishment of the Greek Section of TICCIH in 1992, which engaged and mobilised a large group of people and foundations advocating for the safeguarding of the Greek industrial legacy. Since its establishment the Greek Section of TICCIH, in collaboration with State and scientific bodies has promoted important projects for the safeguarding and projection of the country’s industrial stock.
The growing interest in the relics of industrialisation was manifested in the same decade with the emergence of multiple targeted recordings by academic, scientific and research institutions, private bodies and individual researchers, either through research programmes or during the creation process of local thematic museums and other reuse projects (e.g. Open air water power museum of Dimitsana, Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park et. al.).
The 1990s is also the decade of the preparation and launch of the first large scale reuse projects in Greece. The only noteworthy implemented project taking a precedence, was the conversion of olive oil mills into cultural centres in Lesvos island. The pioneer programme, executed in the mid-1980s, safeguarded an important number of preindustrial and industrial small scale oil mills.
The conversion of the flour mill Chatzigiannakis (1924-1987) in Thessaloniki, was one of the earliest reuse projects in the country (Deliyanni, 1992, 48-49). Apart from that project, a series of initiatives was taken for the reuse and protection of multiple industrial complexes (Gasworks factory, textile mill IFANET, FiX brewery, and tileworks Alatini) in Thessaloniki in the 1990s. The 4th Ephorate of Modern Monuments of the Ministry of Culture and the Local Section of Hellenic Society for the Protection of Environment and the Cultural Heritage were the most active stakeholders in respect to the city’s industrial heritage protection.
Following the lead of Thessaloniki, Athens inaugurated in 1999 the first phase of Technopolis. The converted gasworks complex, catalysed the regeneration of its context while creating a wave of industrial heritage conversions in the area, the years that followed.
At this point it is important to stress the combined contribution of two Academic Institutions with local authorities for the safeguarding and reuse of the Greek industrial heritage since the 1990s. The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the University of Thessaly in collaboration with the Municipalities of Lavrion and Volos respectively, were the instigators of key reuse projects. From 1994 to 1999 the NTUA implemented the transformation of the French Mining Company of Lavrion to the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park which is the most extensive and complex case of industrial heritage reuse in Greece to this day.
Since the early 1990s, a plan for the safeguarding and reuse of the abandoned industries of Volos was devised and executed, under the initiative of the local authority and the newly established University of Thessaly (TICCIH Greece and KAM, 2015). The University restored and reused a number of industrial premises for the needs of its administration and educational functions. At the same time, the Municipality of Volos purchased several abandoned industries. Using funds of the EU programme URBAN, it managed to reuse those complexes for cultural, sports, administration and other functions (Adamakis, 2006). The case of Volos is considered to this day, the most comprehensive example of industrial heritage regeneration at a city level in Greece.
As expressed in key publications (Deliyanni and Kotsovili, 1997, Agriantoni, 2003), the turn of the millenium finds industrial heritage in Greece in a precarious position. Gaps in legislation, discoordination or indifference of the State and lack of a common approach between the Ministries responsible for the listing of industrial monuments as well as lack of compatibility of the new functions with the character of the historic industrial buildings in numerous cases of reuse (especially into recreational facilities) and radical architectural interventions are highlighted as key issues of the era.
In contrast, the first decade of the 21st century finds Greece in a blooming economic conjuncture. The favourable economic conditions coupled with the growing momentum of industrial archaeology, the accumulated experience of the previous decades and the growing interest in the relics of industrialisation, gave rise to impressive advances in the field as well as a quantitative and qualitative upgrade of reuse projects across the Greek territory.
The new century saw significant progress in the documentation and research on industrial heritage and in the practice of industrial heritage reuse, too. Seminal projects were launched such as the Centre of Technical Culture in Hermoupolis (CTC) and the Museum of water supply in Thessaloniki. The newly established PBGCF in collaboration with the Laboratory of historic machinery conservation of the CTC created a series of high quality industrial and technical museums across the Greek territory. At the same time, industrial buildings were converted to various other uses both in the major cities and in the periphery with the most diffused being the cultural one.
The financial crisis, starting in the late 2000s and culminating in the following decade, had a profoundly negative effect on the safeguarding and reuse of industrial heritage in Greece. Firstly, there was a pause in conversion projects from the late 2000s to the early 2010s. That was closely related to the lack of available funds from the EU, that had been used in the previous decades to bankroll largescale projects and the climate of austerity that made both the public and the private sector unable or unwilling to invest in construction. Secondly, there were major delays in the programmed projects funded by the Greek State. Lastly, the realised projects faced considerable problems due to the unfavourable economic situation, which made their viability dubious.
In the current decade, despite the continuous insecurity and the fragility of the economic situation in the country, industrial heritage has been given considerable attention. Progressively, from the mid-2010s a number of initiatives have taken place, illustrating the growing interest in the Greek industrial heritage.
• Adamakis, K. 2006. The use of industrial heritage as a development catalyst. En Volo, 23, 42-51.
• Agriantoni, C. 2003. Industrial Archaeology and Heritage: Connections and Tensions. Archaeology and Arts, 89, 42-48.
• Deliyanni, O. 1992. Thessaloniki 1991: A key year for the reuse of historic industrial complexes. Technologia: Bulletin of the Cultural Technological Foundation of the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, 5/6, 48-50.
• Deliyanni, O. & Kotsovili, A. TICCIH National Reports 1994-1997: Greece. 10th International Conference on the conservation of Industrial heritage, 1997 Athens-Thessaloniki. TICCIH, 59-66.
• Louvi, A. 1999. Documentation: A way of safeguarding industrial and preindustrial buildings in Greece. Technologia: Bulletin of the Cultural Technological Foundation of the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, 9, 3-4.
• TICCIH Greece & KAM 2015. Industrial heritage in Greece, 1980-2015. Safeguarding-Research-Education KAM Center of Mediterranean Architecture.