Seeing the whole city as a canvas for greening.
Improving life in Athens requires thoughtful investment and realistic proposals. Poly Garden City is a project for Athens, which incorporates green on a wide variety of hard surfaces of buildings, creating gardens and helping to change the microclimate. “Poly Garden City sees the whole city as a canvas for greening,” says architect Elizabeth Sikiaridi, who has developed the initiative alongside Frans Vogelaar as a proposal by Hybrid Space Lab, “producing a pool of ideas for the renewal of urban centers”.
Just look at Athens from above to see the magnitude of the problem, but also the enormous challenge. One thinks of a variety of solutions for the vast sea of terraces, gray, energy-intensive, aesthetically problematic. “As most of Athens’ streets are narrow and still occupied by parked cars, a strategy aimed at greening the city should focus on integrating the green in the structured urban environment,” says Elizabeth Sikiaridis. “We have to envision to raise the level of green, integrating it into existing buildings. To integrate green in our city through the existing structure of the block of flats “.
The idea is to capitalize on every available space in the city. Roofs and roofs to green, balconies to fill plants, uncovered gardens, climbing plants to wrap walls and facades. Poly Garden City takes care of proper water management and aims at controlling high temperatures, biodiversity and noise reduction. Elizabeth Sikiaridi has been working on urban modernization issues for many years, and in 2014 he has worked on the workshop “Apartment Buildings as Heaters” in collaboration with the City Hall of Athens, the City of Amsterdam, the Dutch Embassy in Athens and the organization of the citizens of Amsterdam Parkhuis de Zwijger.
“Poly Garden City was a very attractive proposal that we tried to launch through various contexts,” says Amalia Zepou, Deputy Mayor of the City of Athens Civil Society and Innovation. “It will be back on the table as the Resilience and Climate Change plan has just been completed with goals and a specific timetable. It is only now that we can decide what actions will be implemented immediately, as well as those launched by 2030. “
In any case, Elisabeth Sikiaridi’s proposal is approaching a high priority issue for Athens, for everyday living, quality of life in the neighborhoods, reducing the feeling of discomfort in the summer and saving energy. In addition, the major issue of aesthetics of the city and the incorporation of flora into the existing structured web is put. Poly Garden City is developing its problem across the Eastern Mediterranean where there are flat roofs and the need to intervene to improve the microclimate. It also co-operates with Middle East organizations (German-speaking organization “Rebuilding Allepo”) and exchanges information with Egyptian state authorities and civilian groups.
“In Athens, as there are no new constructions due to crisis, we mainly discussed small interventions: gardens where there is no suitable ground for planting, pergolas as green stops for public transport, vertical planting with climbing plants in existing buildings, especially abandoned like a measure of protection from graffiti, as well as large visible partitions” says Elizabeth Sikiaridi. Through Poly Garden City, a new understanding and approach to the city is formed as a living organization, a process that involves working with authorities and educating citizens through “prevention and avoidance” information.