The Public Private House

The Public Private House

Modern Athens and its Polykatoikia

Polykatoikia: Athens' signature building typology and most eminent contribution to modern urban design


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Title Information

Edited by Richard Woditsch. With contributions by Panos Dragonas, Mark Kammerbauer, Thomas Maloutas, Dimitri Philippidis, Alcestis P. Rodi, Panayotis Tournikiotis, and Richard Woditsch

1st edition

, 2018


272 pages, 133 color and 130 b/w illustrations

17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-084-8


Throughout the twentieth century, the ancient city of Athens underwent a massive transformation into simple sets of apartment blocks, or polykatoikia. Today, these multifamily residential units define the city’s landscape from center to periphery and house a majority of Greece’s population. Yet specific circumstances and cultural patterns set Athens’s transformation apart from the arrival of architectural modernity in other countries, and what has emerged in Athens is a distinctly Greek variety of modern urban development.

The Public-Private House examines Athens’s urban character and the apparently unlimited adaptability of polykatoikia. In the first part of the book, a photo essay offers an overall impression of Athens and its signature housing structure. The second part of the book investigates historic developments, the genuinely democratic process of urban planning in the city, and comparisons with Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino system, as well as exogenous factors, such as crucial social aspects and the impact of Athens’s strict building code. The concluding third part provides an illustrated analysis of Athens’s most notable examples of polykatoikia and of current developments in Greece contributing to the building type’s decline.


Winner of the 2018 competition En Goed Boek.


Designed by Cataloguetree.

Authors & Editors

Panos Dragonas

 is an architect, curator, and Professor of
Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Patras, Greece.

Mark Kammerbauer

 is an urbanist and holds degrees in architecture and urban studies from the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Technische Universität München.

Thomas Maloutas

 is Professor of Social Geography at the Department
of Geography, Harokopio University.

Alcestis P. Rodi

 is Assistant Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Department of Architecture, University of Patras, Greece.

Dimitris Philippidis

 is Professor Emeritus of the School of Architecture at NTU of Athens, where he taught at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. His professional work spans architectural design and urban planning.

Panayotis Tournikiotis

 is Professor of Architectural Theory at the School of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens.

Richard Woditsch

 is an architect and a Professor of Theory of Architecture and Design at Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm.