Elefsina’s public space reclamation

With a valuable position along Athens’ industrial coastline -and part of its commercial transport networks- Elefsina has gained its strategic role throughout history. Today the city has a unique combination of conflicting and contradicting elements. But most importantly, in the spatial battle between industry and the city, there is clearly one winner: The coastline is occupied by industrial and commercial uses, with only small inaccessible public areas. The natural landscape is underrated and polluted; a left over between large production plants. The challenge for this project was to change the perception of Elefsina as an industrial city, and reclaim space for its citizens and visitors. Two different sites were redesigned: An underground beach at the waterfront and an elevated tree garden located between the highways, at the entrance of the city. The two projects came from the idea that if ground level cannot be changed, then above or under it lay the opportunities.

program | Two public space proposals for commercial harbour & city park

info | 2009 – 2010, Elefsina, GR

type | Diploma graduation project, School of Architecture, University of Patras

role | student project in collaboration with Vicky Polychronopoulou and Marirena Resta

responsibilities | Research & analysis, original idea & design, 2d & 3d drawings and illustrations, physical modelling, presentations

tutors | Nikos Kazeros, Vasiliki Petridou

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Underground beach

The first location is treated as an extension of the city to the sea. A ‘sunken square’ is created to direct visitors into the underground levels. The adjacent cut off seafront areas are connected through the new public space, while the existing bus station is moved underground. Finally, the use of a glass surface between the swimming pool and the sea is a design choice that invests in the original controversy: a direct comparison between the two different uses of water. The emphasis on the structural system of the underground level and the emerge of observatories on the harbour further act in favour of this comparison.

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Elevated tree garden

Since the second site is along the highways and steel factories, the main design effort was to associate Elefsina’s entrance with a garden instead. Fruit trees are placed on top of an elevated ground suitable for cultivation, in order to emphasise the inability to crop the existing contaminated natural ground. A variety of different ‘gardens’ are also designated for play, films, education workshops or pic-nic. Three viewing terraces offer the visitors a look towards the city, the adjacent airport and factory through art installations. The ground level remains as part of the motorway.

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