ECOWEEK NGO was created by Elias Messinas, who as a young architecture
student met and was inspired by the late Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy.
Fathy, whom Elias met in Cairo, Egypt, urged him to empower young professionals
to be of benefit to their communities. ECOWEEK design programs and workshops
are hosted by universities, municipalities, and institutions around the world,
emphasizing the principles of education, co-operation and sustainable
design, and engaging in placemaking and interventions in the
public space. ECOWEEK workshops often take the form of hands-on design-build
projects which, in addition to their educational and training value, leave
a positive impact on the ground. ECOWEEK programs inspire and empower young
students and professionals to become catalysts for change.
The GREENHOUSE is the platform established by ECOWEEK NGO for ecology,
innovation and entrepreneurship for society and the environment
for young professionals – among them, architects, engineers, designers, and
landscape architects. A platform for creative work that involves ecology,
the environment, ecological building, clean energy, and recycling and reusing
waste into the design process. “We really learned that with very few resources
we can add value to the city!” The GREENHOUSE takes the form of temporary
or permanent design workshop groups that are assigned real projects by real
‘clients’ – municipalities, local councils, local communities, NGOs.
HELIOS (2005-2013) was a non-governmental non-profit
organization established on Aegina island, to promote sustainable development,
not as a tool for unlimited development and economic growth, but as a tool
to allow the sustainability of earth's ecological systems and cycles. HELIOS
was established by Elias and a small group of architects and other professionals
in 2005. In 2007 HELIOS was instrumental in diverting plans to establish two
concrete factories on the Skotini valley, an area of untouched beauty on the
island of Aegina. An area also important for protecting the quality and quantity
of underground water in Aegina. Elias as HELIOS President, was interviewed
by Thrasy Pertropoulos of Athens News in May 2007, and by Fotini Pipili
of SKAI 100.3 radio on May 19, 2007. In 2006 HELIOS participated in
the ECOWEEK events in Aegina, co-organizing a lecture by Prof. Dimitris
Rokos, of the National Technical University, which took place at the Folklore
Museum of Aegina. The lecture presented integrated development for a life
worth living, as opposed to uncontrolled development and growth of economies
In 2004 Elias with his wife Yvette, the late David
Fais of Zur Moshe (Israel), and a small group of dedicated people created
park Athens 2004, as a symbolic gift to celebrate Athens hosting the
Olympic Games 108 years after they were revived in modern Greece. The
park was created thanks to the generous donations of private individuals in
Greece, Israel and the US, the Greek State, and the Jewish Communities of
Greece. The park is located at Moshav Zur Moshe, a moshav established
by Greek immigrants from Thessaloniki in the 1930s. The park covers an area
of approx. 40,000 square meters, planted with over 200 trees. The park includes
the donors' pillars and flag posts in the entry, the children playground donated
by the Fais family, the promenade donated by Sabby Mionis, and
the 'Righteous of Athens' park, where Greek officials are honored for
their contribution in establishing bridges of peace, understanding, co-existence
and tollerance in Greek society. The park Athens 2004 was dedicated in July
2004 by the Ambassador of Greece Panagiotis Zografos, in a ceremony
attended by Greek Consule in Haifa Kostas Zinovios and Greek Embassy officials.
For more information on the park click
Aegina island located in the Saronic Gulf, just
35 minutes ride on hydrofoil or one-hour on the boat from the port of Pireaus.
An island that, despite all odds, has managed to maintain its unique identity
- still. Nevertheless, in the last 10-15 years over-population, over-construction,
and over-consumption, has stripped the island of some of its most unique natural,
cultural and historic sites. Aegina is also the site where many known or less-known
Greek architects have left their creative imprint: A. Constantinides,
K. Dekavalas, A. Tombazis, K. Tsipiras, Y. Makris,
V. Douras, T. Fotiou, I. Benesaya, D. Diamantopoulos,
and many others. Aegina is also known for its vernacular architecture, such
as the world-famous Alexandros Rodakis' house in Mesagros, built in
1880, and Mailis & Brown House in downtown Aegina. Aegina, as the first
capital of modern Greece is also enriched by some unique Kapodistrian civic
buildings, such as the library, the archive and the orphanage (later prison).
When visiting the town of Aegina, one cannot but stop and say 'good morning'
to almost eveyone in town. With a registered (2002) population of 14,000 people
in Aegina people still know each other, people still talk to each other, people
still feel the bonding (and social pressure) of a community. This is a very
unique experience today, as globalization is separating people, distancing
them from their surrounding community. Elias intitated in Aegina a number
of projects, involving and benefiting the local community including:
(a) A household waste
recycling program (campaign started in 2004 and program finally implemented
in May 2007) and in devising a floating
solution for the waste problem of the Saronic islands.
(b) Raising public awareness in environmental issues through hundred of articles
in Greek in the Saronic Islands free press, and local newspapers.
(c) Establishing initiatives, such as ECOWEEK
events in Aegina in 2005 and 2006, introducing to the local community concepts
of energy conservation, waste recycling and organic waste composting, and
ecological (or 'green') building.