The Periscope is a refurbishment of a small hotel with 22 rooms, in the center of Athens. The building contains thirteen installations which allow the occupants of the hotel to experience the city of Athens at different scales and from a variety of vantage points.
The thirteen installations were designed especially for the hotel, in collaboration with artists and designers. The design process was a curatorial exercise as much as it was an architectural one. The central installation, which acts like a periscope, inspired the name of the hotel. It was comprised of a surveillance camera placed on the roof, feeding a panoramic projection in the lobby. The camera was controlled by a custom designed joystick that allowed hotel guests to pan, tilt and zoom the camera at will. The Periscope Hotel was completed on the year of the Olympic Games when 800 surveillance cameras were placed on the streets. At a point in time where urban surveillance was becoming the prevalent tool for law enforcement, the periscope installation offers the hotel guests the ability to scan the city as tourists, using a medium that is usually reserved for government agencies.
The Periscope Hotel is a refurbishment of a building that was constructed in the 1950s. It used to be a clinic and a hotel (called ‘the Athenian Inn’). In 2004 we stripped the building down to its awkward concrete structure and re-organized it’s interiors to create a small urban hotel with 22 rooms and a bar on the ground floor. The first, second and third floors are occupied by “torpedo” rooms while the fourth, fifth and sixth floors are occupied by suites. The front façade was reconfigured, allowing more light into the rooms while revealing one of the installations, the aerial photographs on the ceilings, to people looking at the hotel from the road.
The refurbishment dealt with all aspects of the hotel including the custom furniture and all the cabinetry that we designed and manufactured for the hotel.
The periscope is part of the YES Hotels group.
The Building as a Container of Installations
After 9/11 urban surveillance has become a primary source of information for the agencies that monitor cities in search of security threats. We are constantly been monitored in ways that we are not aware of. The Periscope re-examines urban surveillance as a social phenomenon and offers the opportunity to the public to participate in the process of surveying with thirteen installations that were designed especially for the hotel, in collaboration with artists and designers.
Installation 01: Shadow Lit Wall
The mural painted on the side facade is a study of shadows that are casted on this wall by the surrounding buildings on November 19 and January 22 at thirty minute intervals.
Installation 02: Periscope Device
A surveillance camera captures the view from the top of the hotel. The images are relayed to the ground floor bar and projected on two screens. The view can be controlled through a custom designed joystick (CAMTROLL).
The guests can influence the movement of the camera in three ways: pan, tilt, zoom, observing the city at their own pace. A special computer program was designed in order to mediate the information from the camera to the joystick and projectors.
Installation 03: Framing Athens
Black & white photographs of Athens shot by Kyle Gudsell from within the Hotel make a reading of qualities of the surrounding cityscape. They are strategically installed throughout the building in varying scales and proportions.
Installation 04: Urban Stethoscope
A microphone collects city sounds from the top of the building. These sounds are broadcasted in the public WCs on the basement level. Hotel guests experience this soundtrack which exists beyond the envelope of the building when they visit the lavatories.
Installation 05: Tram Patterns
A mural by Nikos Papadimitriou featuring patterns created from the abstraction of tram cables over the streets of Athens, is placed on the 6th floor suite. These patterns are engraved on a silicone rubber surface covering one wall.
Installation 06: Panorama Beams
Panoramic images of Athens taken by Alexander Kuehne from the highest points of the city (Athens Tower, mount Lykabettus) are printed onto plexiglas lightbox beams in the center of the junior suites of the 4th and 5th floors providing ambient lighting for the rooms. The one side of the beams has the day view while the other side has the night view from exactly the same location.
Installation 07: Plimsoll Line Stairs
An altimeter gauge runs up the side of the staircase trunk. This gauge references the Plimsoll lines on boat hulls. Hotel guests can read what height above sea level they are on, as they are going up the stairs to their rooms.
Installation 08: Screen Saver Animations
3D Animations of gigantic animals strolling in the center of Athens have been created by Pavlos Germidis for the Hotel. These animations appear on the projection screens of the ground floor, as screen savers, when the periscope device remains inactive for a set amount of time.
Installation 09: Obelisks of Athens
A postcard stand is placed next to the reception. The postcards are images of the obelisks the emerged in Athens as supports for hundreds of surveillance cameras that were installed in the city for security reasons before the 2004 Olympic Games. The photographs and installation are by Leonidas Lianbeys.
Installation 10: Tourism in the Horizontal Position
Aerial photographs of Athens, taken by Nikos Daniilidis from a helicopter around the time of the 2004 Olympic Games, are placed on the ceilings of the torpedo rooms. The guests can observe the urban sprawl of Athens and map mental routes while lying down on their beds. The “torpedo” rooms adjoin the street facade so that the aerial photographs are visible from the street below at night. People passing by can experience a collage of the urban sprawl of Athens. Each room displays a different photograph.
“Periscope” Hotel was included in Casa Vogue Italia vol26,25
"Periscope" hotel in Athens
The “Periscope” hotel is a space that offers its guests the opportunity to observe and monitor the city of Athens by various means. The architects were asked to modernize a building, which was originally build in the 50s, and had no particular character or interest.
Architecture in Greece 40/2006
The Periscope hotel is a place where visitors have the opportunity to observe and trace the city of Athens by various means. The main alterations took place on the facade of the building and in the arrangement of the interior spaces including all 22 rooms.
In 2005, the ‘Periscope Hotel’ was included in the 62th “Vogue Hellas” as one of the two most innovative city hotels in Athens. Together with “Hotel twentyone” which is also created by DECAarchitecture team.
PERISCOPE is the YES!Hotels antidote to the ordinary city hotel. Modern minimalism and award-winning architectural design create a Young, Energetic and Seductive urban haven, right at the heart of Kolonaki. The original building, from 1950, is now a tribute to clean lines and uncluttered spaces, balancing ergonomics with urban aesthetics. Form, color, and texture create a feeling of order and tranquility.