BY ALEX ULAM
The Hellinikon, an enormous area on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, is testament to how rapidly man-made forms literally can go to seed. From a hillside overgrown with unruly purple bougainvillea, you can see hundreds of structures in various states of decay across a vast expanse that terminates at a highway along the Aegean Sea. Just below, clumps of scrub grass have thrust their way up between stadium seating overlooking a complex of structures that includes a series of moldering concrete ramps built for a 2004 Summer Olympics kayaking event.
Near the decaying Olympic venues are the sprawling remains of the former Hellinikon International Airport. These include the ghostly, white-columned terminal for international flights designed by Eero Saarinen. Today, this modernist interpretation of Greek temple architecture is fenced off, and through the broken windows under its porticos, you can see rubble. The concrete runways are cracked, and they have large puddles, oases for seagulls and packs of wild dogs. Security guards cruise around in unmarked cars; they are the only other people anyone is likely to find on the grounds. Next to the terminal is a row of jets, several with retractable stairs attached. At first they look as though (more…)