Design Studio Required Elective at semester(s) 6, 8, ECTS: 12
The exercise is open to varying interpretations of the urban phenomenon. Through their design choices and by ranking the city’s logical priorities, the groups involved are encouraged to formulate ideas, elaborate concepts and apply ‘stratagems’ to the urban space. The strategy of the approach is to recover all those formless areas in the city which have been abandoned to their fate and turn them into public spaces for recreation, cultural use and even tourist activity.
In an age when the number of public spaces in our cities is dwindling to an alarming extent, having given way to pseudo-public spaces in department stores and shopping malls, the need to reformulate the public character of this particular area and redefine its crucial relationship with the sea by highlighting the richness and diversity of this contact is imperative.
The scales that will be used in this study are as follows:
- 1:1000 for general plans and
- 1:250 for the presentation of finer detail.
This redevelopment concerns an undeveloped expanse of urban land which is bounded to the north-east by a narrow road that forms an extension of the seafront boulevard and is inadequate for increased local traffic needs, and to the south-west by a degraded expanse of coastline that forms an extension of the city’s eastern seafront known as the ‘Nea Paralía’, at the point where the latter meets the boundary of the Municipality of Kalamaria conurbation.
Briefly, it is worth noting that this area is historically known as ‘Exochés’, after the suburb that was created here in the early 1900s by the city’s affluent classes.
At that time the Allatini family established what was by the standards of the time an enormous flour mill, the largest in the Balkans, built on a design by the Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli. This complex, which originally stood next to the sea, would serve as a bold landmark for the surrounding area and, indeed, the city of Thessaloniki.
At the same time, even today memories are still fresh of life on the Salamina fish-wharf, which was directly associated with the area under examination here, with its distinctive wooden seaside installations built on stilts and its nightclubs with flashy European names like ‘Luxembourg’ and ‘Miami’, which would later be demolished and ‘put straight’ through the definitive construction of the seafront esplanade in 1960 and the redefinition of the latter in 1976.
The former natural contours of the shoreline were eliminated by the continual banking-up of the seafront wall, which assumed its final form after 1970.
Unexpectedly, in 1990, despite complaints by the local residents and the total lack of any urban planning study, a building was installed in the area in a semi-legal manner. This was the present Thessaloniki Concert Hall, which had been designed for another urban site with very different strategic aims, having clearly incorporated specific urban characteristics in its volume and general appearance. It is obvious that it was not designed to form part of the visual transition from the land to the open horizon of the seafront. Presenting three dead facades, through its huge volume it blocks lines of vision to the sea, degrading and cutting off the adjacent inland areas. Alongside this building stands another edifice designed by a very capable Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki, which permits events of a different type to be held.
At the same time, however, in recent decades the area has come under increasing pressure to satisfy the local residents’ needs for car parks and recreational, educational and sports facilities. In addition, there has been a more general need to seek out and define the potential identity and possible role of this exceptionally important area in view of the likely development of a metropolitan plan for the city.
The reconfiguration of the city and its relationship with the sea through constant transformations propelled by social, political, economic and cultural parameters appears to be one of the dominant characteristics of the last century.
However, the long-term expectations cultivated in that century, which were always centred on an overdeveloped urbanity, have created an incomplete setting which is open to both logical demands and conceptualdead-ends.