SUSTAINABLE CITY WORKSHOP 
Victoria Square Athens 
ATHENS 15-19 DECEMBER 1997 
 
Organised by     
DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE      
NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS     
and    
ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY STUDIES PROGRAMME      
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION GRADUATE SCHOOL  

Text edited by Simos Yannas & Thanos N. Stasinopoulos    
Photographs by Joumana Khodr    
Web layout by Thanos N. Stasinopoulos   
  
February 1998 

These pages have been designed for 1024x768 resolution

Contents .
    Credits  
    Introduction  
    Project Brief  
    An Introduction to the Victoria Square area  
    Diary  
     
 Design Proposals 
    THE GREEN INTERVENTION  
    WRAP REALITY  
    "CLIMB TO THE ROOF TO EAT THE CLOUDS"  
    LIQUID GREEN  
    SPOTS, LINES AND SURFACE  
    SOME LIKE IT COOL  
    THE GREEN WALK-THROUGH NET  
    PEOPLE STREAMS
Credits
Organisers 
    Vankelly Evangelinos NTUA 
    Theano Fotiou NTUA 
    Thanos N. Stasinopoulos NTUA 
    Elena Stavropoulou 
    Simos Yannas AA Graduate School
Contributors 
    Nikos Douros NTUA 
    Nikos Fintikakis Synthesis & Research Ltd. 
    Nikos Fletoridis A.Tombazis & Associates 
    Nikos Giogias NTUA 
    Venia Haritatou NTUA 
    Artemis Lizardou NTUA 
    Helena Massa AA Graduate School  
    Kostas Moraitis NTUA 
    Yannis Romanos A.Tombazis & Associates  
    Catherine Vei Spiropoulou Architect-planner 
    Maria Spyridaki A.Tombazis & Associates 
Special thanks to the Association of Greek Architects, Nikos Kalogeras, Christos Karras and Katia Sakellariou. 
 
Workshop Participants  

Undergraduate students, National Technical University of Athens, Department of Architecture  

      Dimitris Diamantakos    Zoe Sideri    Sofia Economidou    Marina Raftopoulos    Melina Kaklamani    Andry Sofroniou    Katerina Manoliadi    Themis Zouzoulas    Julie Psallida 
Master’s students, Environment & Energy Studies Programme, Architectural Association Graduate School London 
      Adriana Aristizabal    Raul Moura    Gustavo Duque    Carlos Miranda    Paula Galarza    Maria Romero    Sara Grohmann    Klaus Rothhahn    David Hirsch    Francisco Santisteban    Demy Kalograia    Teresa Sandiumenge    Joumana Khodr    Ricardo Rosa    Madhavi Kohli    Heide Schuster    Atsuko Kotani    Katrina Shum    Rodrigo Loeb 
Introduction 
This web page illustrates eight student schemes which were developed in the course of a five-day workshop on sustainable urban design.  The workshop focused on design proposals to improve environmental conditions in the area around Victoria Square, a typical segment of central Athens.  Participants were asked to address air and noise pollution, car traffic and pedestrian movement, existing buildings and outdoor spaces, and to make proposals for reducing built density and increasing green areas.  
     The workshop teamed a group of 19 post-graduate students from the Architectural Association Graduate School’s Environment & Energy Studies Programme in London with 9 diploma students from the Department of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens.  Eight teams were formed combining students of twelve nationalities from the two institutions.  
     Over the week of 15-19 December 1997 the teams worked intensively for four days presenting their proposals on the fifth day.  The workshop was preceded by introductory presentations and visits to buildings of interest.  Students from both institutions gave presentations on recent project work.  
     The workshop was held at the headquarters of the Association of Greek Architects in Plaka. 
 
Project Brief
The project area around Victoria Square is a typical segment of the high density, degraded,  polluted, and noisy centre of Athens. The chosen segment is delineated by Kodrigtonos to the North, Patission to the East, Ioulianou to the South and Aharnon Street to the West. The busy Patission, Tritis Septemvriou and Aristotelous streets divide the area into distinct subsections along the north-south. Along the east-west direction Heyden Street crosses the area on both sides of Victoria Square. The square houses the entry to the Victoria underground station and the only green elements in the area. The area contains numerous neoclassical buildings, some of which listed, including the derelict High School at the corner Heyden and Aharnon; the Stoa Matala arcade at the corner Patission and Kodrigtonos, which features a glazed roof; and the recently refurbished Workers’ Union Headquarters at the corner Patission and Ioulianou. Other buildings vary in age, height and degree of negligence.  
     We are looking for design proposals to improve environmental conditions in the area. You may choose one of the following as the context for your intervention:  
    - the whole area delineated by Kodrigtonos, Patission, Ioulianou and Aharnon;  
    - the segment delineated by Derigny, Aristotelous, Ioulianou and Aharnon or a number of its constituent blocks;  
    - the segment delineated by Derigny, Tritis Septemvriou, Victoria Square and Aristotelous;  
    - Heyden Street (designated for pedestrianisation by the municipality) and Victoria Square. 
 
Proposals should address the following:  
  • · air & noise pollution 
  • · built density 
  • · the square / the street 
  • · outdoor spaces, activities & microclimates 
  • · landscaping & vegetation  
  • · empty sites  
  • · the car / pedestrian movement 
  • · listed buildings & buildings to retain  
  • · building orientation & solar access 
  • · the open spaces at the centre of urban blocks 
  • · roofscapes / balconies / setbacks  
  • · materials 
  • In addressing the above you may wish to recommend removal of unsustainable buildings and elements to reduce built density and increase green areas. You are free to suggest any interventions you see fit. Your attention is drawn to the following dynamics of the urban environment: 

  • · transitions (public / private; inside / outside) 
  • · mixed uses  
  • · new built vs retrofit 
  • · daily (day / night )  seasonal (winter/ summer) cycles  
  • · capacity for change, adaptability and flexibility. 

  • Submit visual material illustrating proposals with drawings and sketches to appropriate scale. Total submission should be of four A3 sheets including explanations and a written statement of up to 300 words. 

    TIMETABLE   

      Project Development: 15-18 December 1997 (studio opening hours 9.00-20.00)  
      Presentations:  19 December 1997, 12.00-20.00
    An Introduction to the Victoria Square area
    This text is based on the 1996 Diploma Thesis of Katia Sakellariou titled "A Mild Intervention for Uses of the Victoria Square Area" for the NTUA Dept. of Architecture. 

     

    General 
    The area around Victoria Square is a typical example of a large part of the urban fabric in Athens. Located near Omonia Square, the most busy spot of the city, it was among the first sections of Athens to be included in the City Plan introduced in 1867. For many decades it had been a middle class residential area, encircling the underground station which was constructed in 1935. 
         As in the rest of Athens, after the war-plagued ‘40s there was an intensive building boom by private developers on a ‘flat for land’ basis; thus scores of apartment blocks on small plots replaced the old family houses, providing housing for the petit-bourgeois masses that migrated from all parts of Greece. 

    Population 
    The consequent high density, combined with the rapid growth of traffic-related problems, led to the degradation of the area during the last 20 years. A large portion of its current population belongs to ‘weak’ social groups (old-aged, students, immigrants from abroad, etc.), whilst most of the better-off ones have moved to the suburbs. 
         Between 1981-91 the population shrunk by 18% to about 18,000 (or 29,000 according to other estimates) in more than 9,000 households. The typical family is rather the minority of households today, with more than half of the population belonging to young or old age groups, most of them of low income.  The influx of foreign immigrants from Eastern Europe and Third World regions has been intensified during the ‘90s, forming perhaps 20% of the present population, a trend that leads to further decline of the area status. 

    Uses 
    The area a mixed-use one; there is no legislation on land use other than the Building Code, as in most of the Athens area; authorities try to control certain uses indirectly, through red tape. 
    Most property is residential (about 78%), the trend being to convert flats into offices. The ground floors are generally occupied by shops, mainly retailing. Most commercial activities are attracted towards the main axis of Patission Avenue, while the back streets house rather ‘underground’ uses (prostitution and gambling). The existence of fringe classes (immigrants & unemployed) and 'obscure' activities does not create social friction, as long as a degree of discretion is in place. 
         There are many offices in old flats and a few office blocks, the biggest ones being the Greek Telephone Exchange and the State Electricity Board, with a strong impact on parking space demand.
         Educational buildings vary from elementary schools, usually housed in old private houses, to the Athens University of Economics Campus. Social catering like day care centres etc. is limited, but there are many leisure facilities like cinemas, restaurants, coffee-bars, or even gambling halls, most  directed not to local inhabitants but to the whole city. 

    Housing 
    Most apartment blocks are up to 6 storey high plus basement (about 3m high each), served by a small lift; in many cases basement storage spaces have been converted into small flats. Apartment sizes range from 20 to more than 90 sqm, averaging 15-20 sqm per room, typically with central heating using oil burners & iron radiators. 
         Building footprints cover more than 70% of the plot, the back yard being of little use other than providing daylight & ventilation to the back rooms (inner spaces are ventilated through small so-called ‘light ducts’). Narrow balconies (limited to 1/10 of the street width) run across most of the facade, with top floors offering the advantage of a set back by 2.5m. 
         The typical structure consists of concrete frame & cavity wall infill; light-coloured plaster covers most of the inner-outer surfaces, with floors made of polished concrete, marble or wood over the concrete slab. Windows are usually single-glazed on wooden frame with rolling or sliding shutters. 
         Thermal insulation is minimal, as most were built long before the energy crisis and the subsequent regulations; similarly, sound insulation is poor due to thin partitioning walls between flats (10-20cm hollow brick), a usual cause of quarrels. 

    Traffic & parking 
    The area is intersected by non-local traffic across several axes, the most busy of which (Patission Avenue) is used by more than 70,000 cars daily. This is not only a major problem for pedestrians, but also a significant cause of air and noise pollution, usually above acceptable limits. 
         Parking provision (about 2,600 spaces, 1/3 of which is not legal) is much less than needed (3,300 spaces, 35% of which is due to non-residential uses), leading to wide spread illegal parking and thus to even more traffic congestion. 

    Public space 
    The major public space of the area is Victoria Square, also known as Kyriakou Square, which was created in 1935, together with the local underground station. Being a space of many & diverse activities, it serves passers-by more than local residents. Used more as a passage rather than for longer staying, it is an example of "public space locked up in private sub-sets". 
         Its east side, next to the station, is a leisure area with many tables from the surrounding bars & restaurants which attract clientele from other parts of the city. The west side, with the statue next to the pont, the benches and the small playground, aims more to the locals, but its appeal is reduced by the frequent presence of drunkards, homeless or un-employed strangers. 
         Due to its character, the square does not function as an open space for the local residents, especially those who need it most, i.e. old-aged and children which usually are forced to stay at home. 

    Proposals 
    An effort to halt and perhaps reverse the decline of the area should bolster urban infrastructure, along with enforcing restrictions on uses that are at odds with its residential character. In that direction, funding is less of a problem than the unavoidable confrontation with the profits at stake. 
         A recent study commissioned by the Municipality of Athens concludes in two major proposals, (a) a network of open spaces with functional & environmental value, and (b) new regulations on land use. The first group of suggestions includes the creation of social facilities, the reduction on non-local traffic, the introduction of pedestrian streets and the construction of off-road parking space. According to the second group, restrictions should be enforced on certain commercial uses which discourage the residential function. 
     

    Diary
    FRIDAY 12 DECEMBER 1997   
      Building Visits   
      AVAX OFFICES (Architect: A.Tombazis & Associates)  
      VEIS HOUSE (Architect: C.Spyropoulou-Veis)  
      MELETITIKI OFFICES (Architect: A.Tombazis & Associates)  
      SOLAR VILLAGE I (Architect: A.Tombazis & Associates)  
       Presentations  
      SUSTAINABLE CITY PROJECT (AA Environment & Energy  
      Programme students)  
      KOTZIA SQUARE COMPETITION PROJECT (NTUA Students) 
    SATURDAY 13 DECEMBER   
      SITE VISIT: VICTORIA SQUARE AREA  
      INTRODUCTION TO SITE (T.N.Stasinopoulos)  
      VLALI SQUARE COMPETITION ENTRY (E.Stavropoulou)  
      SIX PROJECTS (D.Fintikakis)  
      XXX XXX (K.Moraitis /…… / …..)  
      ATHENS APARTMENT BLOCKS (T.Fotiou) 
    SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER  
      SIGHTSEEING IN AND AROUND ATHENS 
     
    MONDAY 15 DECEMBER   
      INTRODUCTION TO WORKSHOP BRIEF  
      TEAM FORMATION  
      SITE VISITS  
      WORKSHOP START
    TUESDAY 16 DECEMBER  
      WORKSHOP 
    WEDNESDAY 17 DECEMBER  
      WORKSHOP 
    THURSDAY 18 DECEMBER  
      WORKSHOP 
    FRIDAY 19 DECEMBER  
      PRESENTATIONS 
     
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