Re-discussing the image of the Athenian Urban Landscape
Ilias Oikonomakis & Angelos Siampakoulis
This research project looks into the origins of Greek urban landscapes, a unique homogeneous form of urbanism shaped by the perpetual repetition of the fundamental apartment building type of ‘Polykatoikia’. Athens is used as a case study, in order to examine the transformation potentials of its characteristic image and typical urbanism, as well as to trace new forms of habitation and collective design processes.
A series of interventions and scenarios are developed, as to transform and enrich the character of this specific urban and pictorial condition. The interventions are organized through the conception of two generic spatial instruments: the Suffix and the Appendix. As SUFFIX is determined the space upwards a city block. It is formed by the straight external building line and the curly internal line that defines the un-built space in the heart of the city block, while its height is 1½ times bigger than the height of the conventional 7-storey polykatoikia. In the case of existence of an empty plot in the block unit, this three-dimensional space – from the ground level up to the top of the city block – is determined as the APPENDIX of the Suffix constituting the way of communication between the Suffix and the public street space.
The Suffix and the Appendix are spatially determined by the city blocks but their design and programmatic aspects are autonomous. They are not designed tabula rasa, but according to an initial catalogue of ‘Design Guidelines and Patterns’ and to specific ‘Programmatic Guidelines’. The Design Guidelines outline the geometrical potentials and the materiality of the Suffix and the Appendix, while the Programmatic Guidelines trace the possible adopted functions and the eligible constituencies. Both systems indicate the ad hoc design of the Suffix and the Appendix for each block and partially disengage the design process from the previously necessary contribution of a specialized authority.
Each of these systems is initially approached separately through a theoretical abstraction & conceptualization and they are eventually synthesized in the “Temporal Evolution” study frames. The frames assume a paradigmatic role and shape the essence of the proposal. Considering the familiarization of the community as a crucial part of the strategy, the implementation initiates with the introduction of the Appendix. Through a continuous process of evaluation and re-intervention, the evolution proceeds with the gradual adaptation of more complex programs. The Suffix and the Appendix appertain to the collective and strictly non-profit ownership of the city block. The proposal presupposes the inhabitants’ active participation by the establishment of collectives that manage the common property and have the absolute initiative for any intervention.
The proposal covers areas of intense urbanism and rather than lightening the context aims at enriching this crisis landscape by transforming its existing character, through the introduction of new spatial ‘tools’ and programmatic characteristics. The Suffixes and the Appendixes have been conceived as islands of an ameliorative urbanism, as places seeking to transform the way people affect, act and inter-act, with and within their built environment. As places where practices of commoning can penetrate the city and mainly the lives of the inhabitants. They are places of collective edification, conflict and assertion; above all, they are acts of resistance in the contemporary undocumented urban land.
Who influences you graphically?
Early period of OMA and Elia Zenghelis
DOGMA / Pier Vittorio Aureli & Martino Tattara
How does the animated gif effect the reading of the singular images?
It demonstrates the importance of the project’s evolution and its gradual establishment in the urban fabric.
What dictated the choice of using solely line drawings?
The single line drawings isolate the essential elements constructing the characteristic image of the Athenian urban landscape and graphically express its complexity. Moreover, they depict the contrast with the proposal.
What is your take on the axo/isoas the most complete forms of drawing?
The axonometric drawings are used to demonstrate the relation and the contradiction with the existing urban landscape, as more detailed and designed paradigms of the possible forms illustrated in the Design Guidelines and Patterns catalogue.
What defined the square format?
To what extent might a more zoomed in image reveal the insertion in a different way?
The overall axonometric drawings illustrate the relationship of the proposal with the complexity of the urban landscape, while the more zoomed drawings reveal the architectonic character of the scheme via a juxtaposition of facades, terraces, contrasts, juxtapositions existing and proposed elements et al.
Born in Athens in 1990, Ilias Oikonomakis obtained his Diploma in Architecture with honours from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 2015. He is currently a Master of Philosophy in Architecture and Urban Design candidate (Projective Cities programme) at the Architectural Association. His dissertation year at the MPhil programme is supported by a bursary from the Architectural Association. Ilias’s MPhil design research refers to forms of cooperative habitation beyond family. The theoretical base of his dissertation analyses the historical models of collective living in England and USSR between 1850s and 1930s, while the design part focuses on the possibility of cooperative modes of living at the present context of London, through the search for new architectural typologies and urban forms. In the past, Ilias has worked for the Miralles Tagliabue EMBT studio in Barcelona (2015), and for several research and design projects in Greece (2009-2015) on a wide range of cases and scales, focusing mainly on matters of housing, urban design and planning and vernacular architecture.
Angelos Siampakoulis (Athens, 1990) is an Architect (Diploma of Architect Engineer with honours, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and a Master of Science in Architecture Studies candidate (SMArchS in Architecture & Urbanism) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a Fulbright Foundation Scholar, a Fellow of the Harry D. Triantafillu Scholarship Fund, a Fellow of Cyprus Children’s Fund and an Onassis Foundation Scholar. In 2012, he was an exchange student at Tampere University of Technology in Finland. In the past, he has collaborated with the office of Miralles Tagliabue EMBT in Barcelona (2012), 40.22. Architects in Thessaloniki (2014) and BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen (2015) working on a wide range of projects and scales including the European Competition Rethink Athens, the New High Speed Train Station in Susa, San Giacomo Church in Ferrara, the New Maritime Museum of China in Tianjin (at Miralles Tagliabue EMBT), the New Urban Plan for the city of Skive, Hualien Residentials’ Showroom in Taiwan and the new Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen (at BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group).
During their studies, the project for the design of the Visitors’ Center at the workspace of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center received the 3rd Prize (National Competition – 2013) with Renzo Piano as the judge of the shortlisted projects, and the 7th place at the ‘Top 10 projects for the years 2011-2013’ category of the DOMES International Awards (2014) with a judge panel composed by Michael Lykoudis, Richard Meier and Juhani Pallasmaa.