Evi Mamidaki: It is unthinkable that our architectural heritage remains unused


The newly elected President of the Panhellenic Association of Owners of Preserved Buildings and Monuments, lawyer Evi Mamidakis, on the occasion of her letter to the Prime Minister for which, as she says, “we literally spat blood until we found a way for it to end up in his office”, spoke to “THEMA” about the opportunities that open up for preserved Buildings and Monuments, but also the corresponding European practices and strategies.

How encouraging is it for your cause that the prime minister took a personal interest in your proposals?

We were pleasantly surprised when the Prime Minister himself requested that this letter be forwarded directly to him, because as he mentioned, it concerns a matter that concerns him personally, while it was originally sent to the office of the Minister of State Mr. Skertsos. That the Prime Minister found these ten precious minutes to read it, evaluate it and finally be convinced to activate the political processes for the implementation of the proposed reforms, is hopelessly optimistic and encouraging for the fate of these buildings, said the new President of Association.

It is indeed a huge “foolishness” for so many decades that our architectural heritage has not been treated as a source of wealth and economic development, resulting in the sad image of abandonment that it displays today.

What is the strategy proposed by your club?

The strategy proposed by the Association with a specific new Draft Law submitted to the relevant ministries is ready to be applied to the last corner of the country and to touch thousands of buildings, and is of the kind that really fits the logic of the Recovery Fund, as it escapes the large-scale individual projects of mainly powerful investors, e.g. road axes, tourist infrastructure, etc.

It foresees, for example, in addition to a serious reinforcement of the financial program “Keep at home”, exemption from ENFIA, zero otherwise reduced VAT on restoration costs, deduction of these from income tax, reduced rate in cases of renting a listed building, exemption from transfer tax , but also calculation of age in ENFIA based on the date of construction and not of last intervention, as this is proven by any public document.

What have we been doing wrong all these years?

We have been in direct violation of the rules and principles of International Law binding our country for decades now, which require member states to ensure by providing financial and other incentives that protected properties are not altered, ruined or demolished.

What was the purpose of your letter?

What we tried to particularly emphasize in our letter is the technocratic element of the new European strategies which the Prime Minister to his credit possesses to a special degree, and that it will be for everyone, literally everyone, a huge benefit (win – win for everyone) , capital, owners, investors, state, revenue, development, construction sector and cultural tourism, image and identity of the country, etc.

Why is today the right time to change everything?

The opportunity given to the country today is, we believe without exaggeration, enormous, at a time when:

1. The new European strategies which have as their main objective the end of energy, the building primarily upgrading the durability and stability of constructions in the face of climate change, the so-called “deep renovation” are crucially favorable
2. European funds are available based on the above climate priorities for the post-pandemic reconstruction of the country and,
3. It seems that there is finally political will at the highest level of the pyramid.

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The following is the entire letter of the Panhellenic Association of Owners of Preserved Buildings and Monuments to the prime minister:

“BUILDING WEALTH UTILIZATION AND THE GREEN DEAL

By bringing these buildings back to life, through funded restorations that combine the preservation of cultural values ​​with new techniques of building restoration and energy upgrading, we unlock enormous economic potential.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are attaching the very recent new European strategy, which, in addition to energy, primarily concerns the building upgrade of the resilience of constructions against climate change, (Eu. Renovation Wave Strategy, Attachment

1). The main goal of the new policy is to more than double the rate of renovations and static interventions in the building volume of the built environment.
An integral part of this, the shared European architectural heritage, which based on the supplementary program “European Cultural Heritage Green Paper”, is expected to find a place in the “heart” of the European Green Deal, “Putting Europe’s shared heritage at the heart of the European Green Deal », (program subtitle, attachment

2). The restoration of the building wealth now acquires a decisive role for achieving the climate goal of utilizing alternative energy sources, and strengthening the resilience of the historical wealth, resulting in armored, upgraded and energy autonomous buildings.
The preservation of the country’s historic building stock is a key environmental choice, in line with the principles of sustainable development and the circular economy.

The National Recovery Plan of the country Greece 2.0 is unfortunately limited to the construction of primarily new infrastructures, and to simple energy and only upgrading of the rest, as a result, we let the existing buildings “depreciate and disappear”, and degrade entire areas with tragic consequences for all of us.

At the moment when we all know that these buildings, that is, our history, do not have much time left, they are collapsing next to us, causing danger for all of us.
We remember the two unfortunate children in Samos.

The same buildings in a few words that we quite rightly declared listed in order to protect them, we will end up with mathematical precision labeling them undesirable in order to tear them down.

It is worth noting that in the corresponding European Plans submitted:

1. The new European strategy is being implemented, for beyond energy, primarily building, upgrading the durability and stability of constructions against climate change.

2. The financial incentives and available resources directed to the building restoration of the existing “architectural heritage”, such as preserved, traditional settlements, cultural infrastructures, museums, archaeological sites, etc., are ten times higher compared to Greece, which when addressed in any kind of building infrastructures, they concern only their energy upgrade.

3. For Italy, in fact, a neighboring country with a similar rich history, culture, but also problems (seismicity, national debt, refugees, etc.), the strategically targeted investment in the beauty of the country, and in the entire calculable chain of “CULTURE” and of “TOURISM”, takes solemn priority in available resources over everything else: [ .. The significant increase in resources related to culture and tourism does not only correspond to the need to support the areas that are the most affected by the effects of Covid. Indeed, NGEU is not a mere economic and environmental project. It is a European cultural project that defines development sustainability objectives. Strategic investments in the entire value chain of culture and tourism are essential for spreading sustainable development throughout the country. page 18’]

However, the proper treatment of our building wealth, could first and foremost in our country out of all the European ones, take on a primary symbolic character, as a basic choice of national priority and an important developmental means of its reconstruction.

Detailed Strategic Plan – Proposal, with the necessary reforms that combine the institutionalization of financial instruments to stimulate private initiative, favorable tax measures, removal of disincentives, as well as speeding up licensing procedures and other legislative arrangements, is all ready and at your disposal for utilization (attachment 3).

Besides, the funds available for the reconstruction of the country no longer leave room for past sorrows and inactions of the past.
At the moment when we are given the opportunity to plan additional funding, increasing the size and intensity of our actions through the REACT-EU complementary package and other available resources, which are expected to act as a bridge in the long-term recovery plan of each country.

The moment, we believe, is the most appropriate for the country to fulfill important environmental initiatives and commitments, and to finally treat in the right way its historically and culturally valuable architectural heritage, which should be a source of wealth and economic development, in contrast to the sad image of abandonment it currently displays.

Attachments :
1. The European Program “A Renovation Wave for Europe “Greening our buildings, Creating jobs, Improving lives” EUR-Lex – 52020DC0662 – EN – EUR-Lex (europa.eu)
2. The recent European Cultural Heritage Green Paper “Putting Europe’s shared heritage at the heart of the European Green Deal” European Cultural Heritage Green Paper – Full Paper (ADVANCED DRAFT MARCH 2021) by Europa Nostra – issue
3. Proposals for immediate priority reforms with related necessary supporting actions, useful for the preparation of an overall plan for the management of the historic building stock”
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