How we could revitalize the “hated” Athenian apartment buildings?
Let’s start with an historical reference. How did we reach the center, as well as the suburbs of Athens, to dominate large or small blocks of flats? Horizontal ownership and the phenomenon of consideration are an idiomatic element of Greek reality, which facilitated rapid urbanization, especially after World War II. In retrospect, this development has been accused of transforming Athens into an amorphous mass of structured space , Often of poor construction quality.
We all know their negatives, but can you tell us their positive qualities? The potential of a block of flats is unquestionable: it provides the framework for social integration and urban cohabitation (shops, offices and residences in the same building). Small-scale ownership with many homeowners creates problems but is a powerful factor in social coexistence in the city. At the same time, the structure of buildings with the reinforced concrete (concrete) frame offers multiple possibilities for flexibility and flexibility. This means that we can remodel the apartments to meet the new needs that arise.
What changes did the crisis bring? The crisis brought “gaps”. The phenomenon is visible at the street level with the closed shops and the many tenants / vendors at the entrances. At the same time, apartment buildings are aging and the lack of resources makes it difficult to maintain and rebuild them.
Are there prospects for rejuvenation? What ideas were heard in the workshop? Of course! Importantly, both in the immediate and long term, we must find ways to turn the growth model from quantitative into qualitative. There were many good ideas in the workshop that are worthwhile to give them and develop them. A team of the lab dealt with connecting the block of flats with alternative modes of transport: proposed widening the entrance and, taking advantage of the raised ceiling, introduced the concept of “bicycle parking hangers”. The same group also dealt with the possibility of joining uncovered neighboring apartment buildings so they can function as a single attractive shared space. Another idea was to create a green roof as a meeting place and channel the most public character of the block of flats. This also discussed the potential of a dynamic awareness campaign about the city’s enormous profit in line with the minimum cost of such a measure. According to experts, the cost of sq. Of a green roof with Greek endemic plants is estimated at around 100 euros in 80 years. A green roof has aesthetic value and contributes to maintaining and increasing biodiversity. It also helps significantly to reduce the city’s temperature in the summer. An important thermal insulation measure has the direct consequence of greatly reducing the cost of cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. Other proposals made in the workshop concerned the exploitation of empty apartments by the apartment building community. This can help address the need for semi-open spaces and infrastructure spaces. For example, licensed apartments were proposed to house crèches or to be part of a travel network. A mapping of the qualifications of the residents of a block of flats was also proposed as an infrastructure for the development of a system of exchange of services among its inhabitants in the critical age in which we live. In general, all ideas focused on empowering the micro-community of the apartment building.
What is the framework of the workshop? The workshop was part of the project “Co-Creating the City”, which we are working on as a Hybrid Space Lab. Apart from the tour of Athens as a work trip, the program also included a workshop on “apartment buildings as heat pumps”. The program of the workshop has been edited by Professors Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar of the Hybrid Space Lab, in collaboration with Amalia Zepou, Deputy Mayor for the Citizens Society of the City of Athens, and Konstantina Karidi, Counselor to the Mayor of Athens.