Regeneration of Athens City Center
- Type : Urban Planning & Design
- Year : 2019
3rd Prize at the National Architectural Competition 'Regeneration of Athens City Center'
Organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Athens Anaplasis S.A.
Architects: Choli Erato, Granitisioti Nora, Kappas, Alexandros, Malliri Margarita, Papageorgiou Eleni, Vlachou Athina
Urban Planners: Kolovou Ioanna, Vlachou Athina
Transport Planners: Chondrogianni Demetra, Stephanedes Yiorgos
Landscape Architect: Katsogianni Stavroula
Architecture Students: Vlachou Myrto, Zachos Spiros
A general strategy is proposed towards reshaping the character and function of the historical Athenian triangle. Our aim is its sustainable economic, environmental and social development through the application of realizable, substantial, low cost, and not embellishing interventions with the maximum positive impact.
The promotion of combined sustainable mobility is a central axis of the proposal. Sustainable mobility is crucial for the environmental and aesthetic upgrade, the improvement of the quality of life and the stimulation of entrepreneurial activity of the city center. Priority is given to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. The current hierarchy of traffic is reversed, putting the car in the last position.
We introduce a ‘Low Pollution and Restricted Vehicle Zone’ that restricts cars within the historical triangle for non-residents, with the aim of reducing pollutants and releasing public space. The existing pedestrian traffic network is expanded with new pedestrianized areas and Woonerf streets. The rest of the streets are redesigned with wider pavements, planting infrastructure, outdoor seating, outdoor markets and other urban equipment.
Regarding cycling infrastructure, we propose the realization of the approved route of the northern part of the Metropolitan Cycling Route and we enhance it with radial connections with the neighboring areas. Bicycle racks are provided densely within the city center. We also propose the implementation of a network of public bike-sharing stations.
Regarding public transport, we consider the construction of Line 4 Veikou-Goudi as irreversible. We propose the extension of the existing tram line, which now stops at Neos Kosmos, to Sintagma through Sigrou Av. The existing bus and trolley network could be significantly improved by better route control. In addition, three new free municipal e-minibus lines are proposed to facilitate intra-trips within the historic triangle, and to link it with neighboring areas.
Another main objective of our proposal is the re-use and upgrade of the existing deprived building stock and the stimulation of business activity within the historical triangle. In order to attract new businesses and improve the condition of buildings, we propose tax incentives for buildings’ reconstruction with specific structure stability, energy efficiency and facade specifications. In the case of the existing empty public buildings, we propose the accommodation of infrastructures in order to support permanent residents and attract new ones. We also propose the establishment of a series of viable business models for empty private and public buildings that can regenerate buildings and their surrounding areas.
In order to cope with the mono-functional touristic development model of the city center, encourage the creation of resilient social and economic structures and increase the feeling of safety in public space, we need to attract new permanent residents. The rehabilitation of the center is promoted by strengthening the infrastructures related to residents, its environmental and aesthetic upgrade and the application of restrictions of uncontrolled short-term touristic leases and, hence, the uncontrolled rise of land values.
The environmental upgrade of the center is promoted by significantly restricting the use of private vehicles for non-residents, providing incentives for energy improvement of the building stock, selecting local ecological flooring materials and proposing a planting network that improves microclimate and revitalizes urban ecosystems.
We also propose three focused interventions in three selected areas. The areas were selected based on the significance and intensity of the problems they face and the degree to which they consist parts of different types of urban problems, in order to allow us to synthesize methods and create tools that address relevant issues in other areas of Athens center.
The wider area of Ag. Konstantinos and the National Theater is characterized by intense degradation, ghettoization and high crime rates. In order to revitalize it we identified and then highlighted the comparative advantages of the area through a series of small strategic proposals. We also proposed a methodology for redesigning the profile of the streets in the area in order to achieve its functional and aesthetic upgrade. Finally, we applied tax incentives in order to attract new users in the area and encourage the reconstruction of unused buildings, and we improved the connections of the area with the neighboring areas by public transport and cycling.
In the area Gerani – Theatrou Sq. – Athinas Str., we focus on the redevelopment of Varvakios Sq. as the symbolic and spatial center of the historic Athenian triangle and one of the main entrances to the degraded Theatrou Sq. and the area of Gerani. The main problem is the spatial and visual segregation of the square due to the raised roof of the underground parking. The visual and spatial direct connection of Varvakios Sq. with Theatrou Sq. is considered necessary. We propose removing the raised roof of the square, restoring the ground to its natural inclination and moving the entrance to the underground parking to the northwestern part of the square in order to set free its central axis. The central idea of the proposal is the creation of a vibrant 24/7 food square, which will serve as the main gateway to Theatrou Sq. and Gerani.
The section Kerameikos - Technopolis – Iera Odos has a unique historical and cultural significance as one of the main gates to the historical center and the long archeological walk. Nevertheless, the area is underused and does not currently act as a functional link between its neighboring areas and poles of attraction. The aim of the proposal is to transform the area from a crossing area to a pole of attraction, to highlight its historical and cultural value, to create a functional articulation among the surrounding areas and to provide high quality public infrastructure to the permanent residents of Athens city center. We suggest the creation of new routes that support the desirable pedestrian flows by redesigning and stimulating the entrances of the area, the creation of strategic connections with the surrounding areas, remodeling the boundaries of the archaeological site, the re-activation of the park above the car parking at the junction of Piraeus Str. and Iera Odos, and the provision of infrastructure to permanent residents.