He had to interrupt his studies in 1947 when he was called up, serving on the front line in Macedonia as a wireless operator. During this time he carried with him a book with Le Corbusier's works and tried to keep up with his studies, which he was able to resume in 1950.
While still a student, he built his first apartment block in Semitelou Street, which drastically changed the prevailing style in Athens. His first wife was Martha Deligiannis. In 1965 he married the architect Maria Serdaris, and since then they have shared their common interest in architecture.
He has always been interested in architectural photography, and either takes himself or organises personally the photos for all his works.
He has very often been selected as a judge for architectural competitions.
He has lectured in Greece and England, where he has exhibited a number of projects at the Architectural Association in London.
His work has frequently represented Greek Architecture in Greece and abroad, while a large part of it has been published in the Greek and international architectural press. His public buildings were presented at the 5th Architectural Biennial in Venice in 1994.
The first monograph on his work was published by the magazine ZYGOS in 1976, the second by 9H publications (London) in 1983, and the third by the magazine Architecture in Greece in 1992 and 2000.
In 1992 the Daedalos project, a tourist village for the Robinson Club in Kos, was a finalist among other international entries for the 'Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion Award for European Architecture'. In June 1997 he was represented at the 5th Triennial of Architecture in Belgrade entitled 'Revival of Light, 12 prominent architects from 12 countries'. In February 1999 his work was included in an exhibition of Greek Architecture of the 1960s and 1990s, called 'Landscapes of Modernization', at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam, Holland.
In June 1999 he participated in the exhibition 'Greek Architecture in the 20th Century' at the Deutsche Architektur Museum in Frankfurt, in association with the Hellenic Institute of Architecture.
In 1991 he was elected Doctor Honoris Causa of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. In March 1999 the Greek Academy awarded Valsamakis the Distinction in Letters and Arts.
In the October this year, he will be elected Doctor Honoris Causa of the Architectural School of the National Technical Polytechnic School in Athens.
Valsamakis lives a quiet life, mainly working all day. He has no children and all his time is therefore dedicated to work and architecture.
He is aware of all major architectural projects and events, and from his early years has travelled very often around the world studying architecture.
His has chosen to own and run a small office, which allows him to undertake only as much work as he can personally handle, so that he can take care of every planning detail.
He works in his office in Athens in the morning, and at home with his wife in the evening, and continues working one way or another during weekends and holidays.
He also owns an old house in the country, close to Athens, with a beautiful garden, where he spends Sundays, as well as another traditional house on the island of Hydra for summer weekends. Both houses have been maintained in their original architectural style, with care to every detail. His house in Philothei was built in the early 1960s at a time when there was no modern architecture in Greece. He decided to build the house as an experiment in modern design and techniques, and was able to apply the theory and ideas of the modern movement and 'total design' and express them throughout the house and the furniture. The prevailing idea was continuity of space internally and externally, using a free plan with clarity in planning, detailing and elevations. In the absence of a client, the house presented a unique opportunity to apply his design principles down to the smallest details.
Interior and exterior space are totally unified by open views to the gardens, which make inside and outside one the whole year round. Although open to the secluded gardens, the house is closed to the public eye and is warm, comfortable and very pleasant to live in. Every year many students from Greek and European Schools of Architecture visit and study the house, which has maintained its the original furniture, designed by the architect himself with additions of modern furniture by Charles Eames, Le Corbusier, Hans Wegner, etc. The house has been much admired by visitors, enabling many to come to terms with modern architecture, and has been a source of influence for a number of architects. The plan of the house is a rectangle measuring 10 x 16 m (160m2) on the ground floor with a basement for an office and other ancillary spaces. The 0.93 x 1.00m module is adhered to throughout the house, and is reflected in every component, internally and externally. It is oriented east-west, due to the location of the site with the long west elevation facing the road, protected by greenery from the sun. There are only three main walls, in exposed yellow brick. The remaining area of the elevations is glazed. The roof is a thin 30-cm concrete slab without beams, supported on steel columns with a cantilever of 3.5 m. on one side and shorter cantilevers on the other sides. This protects the windows from the sun and the rain. All the other walls are free-standing, insulated, specially designed partitions, veneered in rosewood. The Oregon pine windows are all sliding, and those in the living room are single pane, 5 meters long. Sliding timber shutters further protect the glazing. All the windows and doors are floor to ceiling. The internal height is 2.53 meters. The floor is in teak. There are therefore only three materials: concrete, brick and timber. Each space has a view of the garden, which thus becomes part of the house. As the levels are the same, when the windows are open the exterior space and the swimming pool are completely unified with the house. The architect had attempted to apply 'total design' and other ideas from his work up to then in previous houses, but they were never fully implemented. His own house gave him the opportunity for the first time to apply these ideas and to plan every detail, including the design of the furniture. Materials and methods of construction that had never been used before were tested. The bricks were specially designed, the partitions were specifically manufactured as designed by the architect, and the very large sliding windows are probably unique. The importance of unifying external and internal space, which is one of the main principles expressed throughout his work, is visible in all the planning and details. Even the bathroom overlooks a small private garden. All the fixed furniture was designed specifically, and classic pieces were imported for the movable items. The house is one of the very few examples of 'total design' of the modern movement in Greece, as clients are usually unwilling to support the concept. The house has been the subject of many studies by architectural students and continues to be so, which shows the timeless aspect of this work and justifies the effort that went into its making. It is still often published in design magazines as a prime example of modern architecture of the 1960s. < BACK

Nathalie Boura