Cable City and the Hanging Hotel

[Image: The Hanging Hotel by Takis Zenetos; think of it as the International Style meets the Potala Palace].

Nearly a year ago, a reader named Stavros Koulis tipped me off to the work of Takis Zenetos. Zenetos was a Greek architect whose work seems clearly to belong in a list of avant-garde mid-to-late 20th century architects like Yona Friedman, Constant, and even Archigram, but who seems otherwise to have been overlooked.
The above project – visible in the next image – is for a hanging hotel, a combination of Tibetan palace, Anasazi cliff dwelling, and artificial geological formation.

[Image: The Hanging Hotel, strung onto a cliffside like a musical instrument, by Takis Zenetos].

But his most exciting project, I'd suggest (based on very little information, to be frank), is Cable City, an incredible 1961 design for a suspended city – what Zenetos called une ville suspendue.
The entire metropolis would be hung from cables, a kind of tensional extension of the earth's surface.

[Image: The Cable City of Takis Zenetos].
To be honest, I've never read a word about this thing in English, so who knows what I'm getting right here; but the overall impetus behind the project seems to be something like counter-terrestriality: a city that would not only span, but even temporarily replace, the earth's surface, forming a cobweb of urban settlement. An extremely local architectural offworld made of capsules, wired Archigramian hammocks, and other high-tech micro-environments.

[Image: The Cable City of Takis Zenetos; the instant city as toupee].

But my own descriptions shouldn't get in the way of Zenetos's images.

[Images: The Cable City of Takis Zenetos].

After all, he even drew gullies choked with wind turbines – sustainable, if bird-murdering, power stations – decades ahead of his time.

[Images: A turbined gorge by Takis Zenetos].

I'd love to know more about Zenetos, if anyone reading BLDGBLOG has more information. "Takis Zenetos (1926-1978)," we read, "is the pre-eminent architect of Greek modernism, with a varied oeuvre (industrial buildings, schools, residences, objects, urban planning studies), and he is best known for the FIX building on Syngrou Avenue and the Lycabettus theatre.
"What is not widely known is that Zenetos was a visionary of the future electronic city and the digital age."

[Thanks to Stavros Koulis for sending me these scans].

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Blogger Maynard said...

Sounds like Octavia from Calvino's "Invisible Cities."

January 22, 2009 2:12 AM  
Blogger marl(t) said...

there is a book about Takis Zenetos' work, very good and with plenty of images. Unfortunately for people interested in his work it is in Greek only...

January 22, 2009 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting...Thanks

January 22, 2009 2:36 AM  
Blogger Vladimir Sedach said...

A three-dimensional hyperstructure in the form of suspended cables? Hangable wind turbines? I smell arcology! Need more info!

January 22, 2009 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's apparently an Italian book called "Takis Zenetos. Visioni digitali, architetture costruite", published in 2006 by Edilstampa. But I think it's already out of print again...

January 22, 2009 6:33 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

There's a high-rise building in Vancouver, Canada, which is completely suspended with cables from a central core -- an attempt to outwit earthquakes. It's called the Qube, and there's a few pix of it on Flickr

January 22, 2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Geoff,
I have seen at the architectural library (in Barcelona) a book about Zenetos: Takis Zenetos, Digital Visions, build architectures. On the internet i only found it in this site, maybe you can get it!

Here is the first chapter in PDF:

And also... thanks for your great posts!!
Best regards!!

January 22, 2009 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Takis Zenetos also designed a school in Athens quite ahead of its time with a vision on how the school works it was called''strogilo''
here's a link

a very nice exmaple of his wok is also a house he designed in Kavuri Greece check this pdf its the second house (the pdf is from a lecture of a university in greece)

January 22, 2009 3:22 PM  
Blogger pete v said...

What's going on with the figures in the image under 1-2-3-4 set? They look tormented, or at least floating in state of purgatory.


January 22, 2009 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Geoff, for bringing this work to light. I certainly did not know of his work before. While to has a familial resemblance to avant-garde work of its time, it is nevertheless quite innovative. It is also a good example of an architect inventing new types of structures for living, something I advocate in a recent post---TYPE CASTING---on my blog ( Again, thank you!

January 22, 2009 10:21 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Lebbeus, I had actually thought you might like these!

And thanks, everyone, for the links and PDFs (including those who have emailed off-post) - I'll keep digging around for more info, as well.

January 23, 2009 10:58 AM  
Blogger Matthew Lie - Paehlke said...

Octavia leapt into my mind as well! I could almost see calvino's precarious net of nouns and adjectives in those rough sketches. Why are things like that so beautiful?

January 23, 2009 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How beautiful ans optimistic drawings. Thanks for sharing this. It´s never enough when talking about happy minded architects. It´s hard to find these qualities nowadays, not many warm, human and soft utopias left.

January 23, 2009 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ,

there is a mistake about the parallel between the Zenetos Hotel and the Potala Palace picture.
It's not the Potala palace but a greek monastery in Athos Montains called SIMONOS PETRAS

This architecture inspired a lot Zenetos... The Athos Mountain architecture is really impressive.

I am gonna try to find all the documentation I have about him and I ll send you that.

Thank you to show greek architecture is not just classic architecture ;-)

February 15, 2009 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello :)
as far as i know, there was another greek called Orestis Doumanis who wrote plenty about Zenetos in English (he was living in London). Unfortunately i dont know where you could find his texts..

October 15, 2009 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the right link for zenetos's house in Kavuri is:

October 17, 2009 6:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Nice post! Zenetos' work was really ahead of his time. His texts and most of his drawings about the city of the future (town planning and electronics - maybe the most important of his works, that he started designing, if I am not mistaken, in 1952) can be found here:
1. Problems of construction in Greece. The City of the future @ Architecture in Greece, is.1, 1967. (p. 88-93)
2. City planning and Electronics @ Architecture in Greece, is.3, 1969. (p.114-125)
3. City Planning and Electronics @ Architecture in Greece, is.4, 1970. (p. 59-60)
4. City Planning and Electronics @ Architecture in Greece, is.7, 1973. (p. 112-119)
5. Town Planning and Electronics @ Architecture in Greece, is.8, 1974. (p. 122-135)
The texts are both in Greek and in English and are worth the 'searching'.

January 10, 2010 7:21 PM  
Blogger Andreas Angelidakis said...

Also from my blog

and a work based on a building by Zenetos

December 30, 2010 3:58 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

I had to reformat a link from Andreas Angelidakis. On December 30, 2010, Angelidakis wrote:

there is a mention of Zenetos in Hertzberger's book Space and the architect

December 30, 2010 1:54 PM  
Blogger pantelis adiavastos said...

His round school in Agios Dimitrios, Athens, was renovated by Profesor Dimitris Papalexopoulos (archsign), who later wrote a book along with Profesor Eleni Kalafati. The book was commissioned by Antonino Saggio, to be in a series of specialized books, regarding the effect of the society of information and digital civilization, on the contemporary architecture.
The italian version is named "Visioni Digitali, architetture costruite, published by Edilstampa srl in 2006.

Then there was the Greek revized version called "Ψηφιακά οράματα και αρχιτεκτονική" which can be translated to Digital Visions and architecture published the same year by Libro in Greece

This is a short video of the day of the presentation of the greek version of the book, in Zenetos "round school" in Athens.

January 19, 2011 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post and sincere interest,

You just missed one important detail: The reference for Hanging Hotel is to be found not in Tibet - apparently, Zenetos had never been there in any case- but in a complex of medieval orthodox monasteries situated in the Athos peninsula.

Mind-blowing architecture to be found there, check it.


February 21, 2011 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Maynard Exactly.But this one's 13 years before Octavia...So I would suggest that Octavia sounds like Cable city instead!

June 13, 2011 6:54 AM  
Anonymous A.N. said...

From the architecture mazagine "Arxitektonika Themata", published 1987

All the written parts, are in greek and translated in english. Has lots of images (photos+plans) from T. Zenetos work, and sums up his principles.

January 07, 2012 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a very controversial sentence...

'' and even Archigram, but who seems otherwise to have been overlooked. ''

I think this guy goes more into structure other than archigram's media

April 21, 2013 1:08 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure how you're reading this sentence: "Zenetos was a Greek architect whose work seems clearly to belong in a list of avant-garde mid-to-late 20th century architects like Yona Friedman, Constant, and even Archigram, but who seems otherwise to have been overlooked." I'm not sure I see the controversy here in what you're commenting on.

April 21, 2013 2:22 PM  
Blogger werner maritsas said...

a brilliant architect and truly a gentleman.
the designs are from his project : Electronic Urbanism
you may find some additional information here:

April 22, 2013 2:33 PM  

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