The main idea of ABM Arquitectos in their Re-Think Athens proposal, which was a finalist in the competition, is to join the two parks at the end of the intervention (Pedion Areos and Lotos Likavitou) with a green mass that will flow all along the intervention. By doing this, the architects hope to bringvback the greenery to an area that used to be a green zone in the outside of the old Athens walls and creating a green corridor that joins the old Athens with the new Athens. More images and architects’ description after the break.
That green corridor is formed by: (1) the existing trees preserved; (2) the new trees added; (3) a continuous floor all along the project with a pattern that is an abstraction of olive tree branches; (4) The artificial activity/bioclimatic trees we create.
We analyzed very well the case in all aspects: traffic, activities, buildings, borders, accessibility, etc. From that analysis we found a way to reorder traffics and locate the different activities that we found necessary to introduce following different themes of classic Greek culture linked to specific spaces of the intervention: Concorde and Arts around Omonias, Democracy around the Parliament, Body shaping around the Archeology Museum and Philosophy around the University. With these themes and our design strategy the result is an urban park-like intervention that creates a global green aspect and fills with life and activities the heart of Athens.
The liberation of the space occupied until now by traffic leads us to reconsider how the urban space is used today. With the help of the before-mentioned analysis we identified the location of the different existing activities. In parallel we thought about which uses and activities are needed to be incorporated to the actuation to make it an attractive, alive and a nice area.
Olive Branches Pavement
We needed to find an element that could give coherence and unity to all the intervention and also keep the sense of green corridor that connects the ends parks. Treatment of the pavement was a major opportunity to address all these points, so it has been carefully designed the strategy by which this pavement is responsible for resolving this double demand.
The final solution is a continuous olive tree abstraction floor that tights all the intervention together and acts as a green connection and a green flow between the two parks at the ends of the actuation. To translate the olive tree light filtering effect to the floor we have chosen a hexagonal pattern that adapts to almost all geometries and situations.
Many activities and public infrastructures as tram stations, metro exits, bus stops, etc need a protection roof. In order to cover these needs and also trying to group up different activities as much as possible, we have designed what we call the “Activity Trees”. These trees have a triple function:
1. To give a shelter to the activities that requires a certain protection from the weather elements, that means protection from rain, sun light, etc… casting shadows or illumination spaces where needed by giving more or less density to the materiality of this shelter.
2. To offer a shadow and protection to the urban environment in general, creating spaces to stay, sit down and watch the people and the life pass.
3. To be an advanced bioclimatic device able to capture energy and water, producing and improved microclimate by means of the bioclimatic boxes explained in our panels.
These activity / bioclimatic trees are a design strategy easy to be adapted and customized to serve the different needs that each group of activities could have, specially the need of a bigger or smaller weather protection, according to the nature of the activity.
Mini Building Leaves and Urban Furniture
In a second level, some of the activities not only need weather protection, but also some functional control that means that they can open or close according to their working times and the needs of each specific element. For this intent, we have designed small constructions as mini floating buildings with a tree-leave shape. Modules can be grouped if the activity requires bigger space (cafeteria, kiosk, study areas, library…). We offer a catalogue from which citizens will chose during the project phase which ones they decide to be implemented in which places. Also, new modules and uses are very easy to be incorporated following the same design principles.
We have tried to condense all the spirit of Athens to bring back to life an area that in the old times was a cemetery and in the last few years has lost its soul. An Athenian tale says that when the Persians burned up Athens in the 5th Century B.C. an olive tree emerged the very next day, just like a miracle… The olive, one of the main symbols of Athens, and also the symbol of renovation and regeneration for the Greeks, is one of the main inspirations of our project that will give to the entire area a very powerful and recognizable image and city branding even from a large scale perspective.
Architects: ABM Arquitectos
Location: Athens, Greece
Design Team: Luis A. Alvarez Alfaro, Alejandro Blanco Callejo, Fernando Morugán Lucas, Mar Agra Rolán, Agata Gryszkiewicz, Łukasz Ekwiński, Fiorella Schiavo
Support Architects, Support Landscapers, Cost Control, Project Management: AECOM
Civil Engineering: Valladares Engineering
Bioclimatic Research Consultants: ABIO-UPM
Design Consultants and Parametric Development: LEM3A
Structural Engineering: 2a+i
Bioclimatic Implement Consultants: Green Globe
Archaeologist (University of Thessaly, Greece): Manuel Arjona
Program: Museum of archeology area, Omonoias, University Area, Parliament Square and area, Music, Theatre, Literature
Competition Status: Finalist