“Architecture and Democracy” weekend at Costa Navarino, in partnership with The New York Times

Can architecture be democratic?  What determines democratic architecture? In which ways can architecture and urban planning represent and facilitate democracy? These, among other, are the main points that the prominent statesmen, opinion leaders and influencers will explore during the exclusive “Architecture & Democracy” event.

The VIP invitation-only event, following a successful inaugural weekend in 2015 which focused on the theme “Art and Democracy”, led by artist Jeff Koons, will take place on 16-18 September, within the framework of this year’s New York Times Athens Democracy Forum.

To request an invitation please see the Participation packages


The Discussion

Architecture and urban planning can both represent and facilitate democracy – whether through maximizing citizen participation in the planning process, by using particular materials including glass (representing “transparency” or “accountability”), by providing accessible space where citizens can freely gather, debate, and protest, or indeed, the final architectural product itself.

But what really determines democratic architecture? Can a profession, perceived sometimes as elitist and even authoritarian, truly create architecture “for the people” and “by the people?”

“Art and Democracy” 2015 event

The interactive discussion, moderated by NYT culture writer Farah Nayeri, is set to take place in a stunning open air location near the river Sellas and the ancient palace of King Nestor.

Costa Navarino is the ideal place to host such an event as the region is home to a rich historical background, from Neolithic settlements, Mycenaean palaces and classical temples to Byzantine churches and medieval castles. Ancient Olympia, the UNESCO World Heritage Site considered the birth-place of Olympic Games, can also be visited nearby.

Please click here to view the full program.


The Speakers

Joining moderator Farah Nayeri (Culture Writer, The New York Times) in an interactive, audience-inclusive debate will be:


Patrik Schumacher (chief architect, Zaha Hadid Architects)

Photo: © Zaha Hadid Architects


Paul Krugman, OP-ED COLUMNIST, The New York Times

New York, NY, 10/15/2014, Photos of New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman. Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times 30165409A NYTCREDIT: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times


Charles Landry, Urbanist and author 

Landry portrait_image1 (1) (2)


Petros Themelis, EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF ARCHAEOLOGY, University of Crete




An All-encompassing Experience

The Bay Course panoramic view Hole 4

Alongside inspiring debate, the Architecture and Democracy Forum will also feature a rich, complementary program of activities and authentic experiences, offered by Costa Navarino, including a curated, archaeological tour of the Palace of Nestor in Pylos, a round of golf on The Dunes or The Bay Course, a “Philosophy Walk”, and wine and olive-oil tasting activities to discover the subtle and unique flavours of the region.

Please see the Participation packages and Transfer options.


Ancient Messene: the cradle of architecture and democracy

One of the most striking examples of the parallel, mutually stimulating evolution of architecture and democracy can be seen at Ancient Messene, the city founded by Epaminondas in 369 BC. Larger than Athens, Messene was built according to the grid system devised by Hippodamus of Miletus, in a way that reflected key democratic values such as isonomia (“equality before the law”) and isomoiria (“equal distribution”).


The spacious two-story houses were identical, all built on plots of equal size. Wide roads provided easy access to communal spaces, including the splendid Agora in the city center, the sprawling Stadium and the 12,000-seat Theater.

From ancient Greece and Rome to the rebuilding of West Germany after World War II, from the federal architecture boom in the United States to the building of new, open and light-filled parliaments and courtrooms around the world, enlightened architects and city planners have sought to erect buildings and create or redesign cities to reflect, partly, the democratic values and the aspirations of its citizens. Their role is even more important now amidst unprecedented urbanization.


Athens Democracy Forum:

Three years ago the International New York Times established the ‘Athens Democracy Forum’ under the auspices of the United Nations Democracy Fund. Through the UN Secretary-General’s endorsement, it has become the principal global event of the International Day of Democracy.

The Athens Democracy Forum aims to examine the state of liberal democracies and explore the major challenges they face in the world today. The event has become the premier global event marking the UN International Day of Democracy on September 15, attracting 400 delegates from 23 countries to Athens last year.

The fourth edition of The New York Times ‘Athens Democracy Forum’ will be convened this September 14-18.