In a bid to curb the unchecked proliferation of high-rise buildings in the Greek capital, Athens Mayor Haris Doukas called on the City Council to approve the enforcement of a1955 law until urban planning laws are finalized.

Addressing the council this week, Doukas stressed the urgent need to halt the relentless expansion of concrete structures that are taking a toll on the standard of living in Athens.

The choice before us is clear, he said, continue down the path of an increasingly congested cityscape or pivot towards creating a more “breathable” urban environment. “Athens cannot sustain further encroachment by concrete and massive constructions,” he said.

Doukas went on to condemn construction firms promising “green” skyscrapers as a solution to environmental concerns, alleging that such claims serve as a facade and mislead the public. This sentiment, he said, aligns with the European Commission’s stance on the issue.

Coco-Mat Athens BC hotel in Koukaki, Greece.

Backing the mayor’s call, constitutional law expert Nikos Alivizatos underlined the importance of upholding existing regulations. The legal expert cited the case of the Coco-Mat Athens BC hotel in Koukaki, which flouted building height restrictions, obstructing views to the Acropolis. Despite a court ruling on the case, the company has yet to comply with the order to dismantle its top two floors.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Coco-Mat hotel near the Acropolis, issued four years ago, remains unenforced, he said, warning that failure to act promptly could precipitate an “unacceptable catastrophe”.

In a unanimous decision, the Athens City Council resolved to enforce height restrictions outlined in the 1955 law, pending the finalization of comprehensive spatial planning regulations. This move reflects the municipal authority’s commitment to preserving Athens’ architectural heritage while fostering sustainable urban development.