The name “Gazi” refers to the Greek colloquial term for flammable gas. The industrial plant, which was the first of its kind in Greece, had been providing the capital city with energy and lighting for nearly 130 years, until its shutdown in 1984. The disused plant has since been designated as a national historic site, and for the past two decades it has been closely linked with the city’s cultural life. One way or another, Gazi still works to “spread the light”.
A bit of history
The production unit was established in 1857 by the French businessman François Théophile Ferald, who was granted production and distribution rights for 50 years by the Greek state. Gas would be used for street lighting for the following 60 years.
In 1887, Giovanni Battista Serpieri, an Italian businessman, assumed direction of the gas house. The company entered a period of growth, owing to the widespread use of gas for both industrial and domestic purposes, and a number of new facilities were added to the original plant.
In 1938, the business was taken over by the municipality of Athens, and 1952 saw the establishment of DEFA, the Athens Municipal Gasworks Company. At that time, the use of gas was dwindling due to the rapid rise of electricity usage.
In 1984 the unit was shut down and two years later the site was officially recognised as a monument. Cultural events have been organised at the premises since 1999 and part of the old plant was turned into a museum in 2013. The Industrial Gas Museum is the only gasworks in Europe where all the equipment has been maintained on site.
The neighbourhood of Gazi, once a depressed area, has also greatly changed in the past two decades. One of the most striking examples of gentrification in Athens, it is now a very popular place, well-known for its cafes and vibrant nightlife. Technopolis has played a large part in this process.
Events and Exhibition
The programme includes several events ranging from theatre performances to yoga sessions (see here for a schedule in Greek), culminating in the exhibition “160 Years Made In Greece. Industry, Innovation, Novelty” which will run from January through March 2018, featuring original equipment, rare photos, audiovisual and interactive material, along with a number of educational programmes and other related activities, highlighting the history of industrialisation in Greece, entrepreneurial development, the evolution of technology and the diffusion of innovations.