This diploma thesis deals with the refurbishment of an eclectic building in Omonia area of Athens, which now hosts a non-profit organization, offering a range of services to sex workers & advocates for their rights, named Red Umbrella Athens. The main reason to engage in this project was the research question of how sex work appears in the modern urban environment of Athens.
In addition to theoretical research and bibliographic review, part of which is reflected in the bibliographical references, I have had direct contact with the sex workers’ community as a volunteer at Red Umbrella Athens. Having identified how the center works and having mapped its needs, I have decided that the object of this thesis would be to remodel the existing shell according to the realistic functional needs of Red Umbrella Athens.
Given the fact that the building presents a state recognized landmark, its history was researched and surveying plans were produced, useful both in the context of this diploma thesis and in the creation of an archive for future use. Based on the above, the main parameters of the synthetic process were defined as the users (staff/volunteers-sex workers), the action and the building. The attempt to reconcile the needs of serving this particular social group to the legal commitments concerning the monumental nature of the building, through the personal engagement were a particular architectural challenge.
The basic synthetic principles taken into consideration for the final design were the functionality of the space according to the spatial needs of Red Umbrella Athens, as well as the redefinition of the symbolic boundaries between the different potential users. At the same time, it was preferable to create a comfortable and modern environment that is not stereotypically inspired by the sex workers’ community, but is intended for them and treats them with respect and non-discrimination. Thus, the purpose of the proposed design is to enhance and highlight the work of Red Umbrella Athens.