This diploma project chose to place its setting in downtown Athens. Our attention was captured by its latent dynamic and thus turned towards parking lots. Those structures can be seen as machines a habiter. The inhabitant, the car, seems to be deserting them. Amongst all types, that of the underground seemed more challenging. Two radically different locations were chosen so as to create a dipole, the parts of which constitute a case study. The one in Kaniggos square in Omonoia, the other in Rizari Street in Kolonaki. The latter surrounded by a sparse urban fabric, green spaces and cultural activities. The former situated in one of Athens’s densest areas, surrounded by intense metropolitan activities, congestion, transportation. Two places, two versions. The clean and the dirty, serenity vs constant motion. The context as the defining design principle. An obvious paradigm of two opposites in program and form which celebrate their birth from the Αthenian womb. A paradigm that is about breathing new life into existing structures. A revitalization that will offer its energy back to the city. The two parking lots, imminent to economic collapse but also to nationalization in the upcoming decade call for their new role in the metropolis. We baptize them as metropolis’s incubators, its accelerators (Kaniggos) or urban de-compressors (Rizari). Inhabitance through the programmatic element of the hotel stretches the notion of viability after the alteration of parking lots.
What characterizes the urban condition these "days of crisis",is not the infinite multiplicity of problems that we are called to tackle,but the fact that they hit us with equal force.They punch us without any boxing sense,rendering us defenseless.Without a thread to bring them together into a single narrative[that,could at least ask for one single answer]they blast at us,a paranoi[se] of issues pushing for a place in the line of the audible. Meaningless!
This project in central Athens investigates this very issue:clarity in the audible and thence,unavoidably,the visible!
It is not a solution for a site that would make claims to realism,nor a proposal for all such sites that would make it a paradigm.It takes advantage of two existing subterranean parking lots,misused,underused,disused.Two antipodal locations-one sparse, green, cultured, the other, dense, congested, intensely metropolitan-present us with a dialectic,a hammer and anvil condition,attempting to forge a clear urban metal.
To do so,the scheme abandons the safety of the surface,the rhetoric of 'the city in the sky' and,knowing that light has always come from the dark,it goes underground and inhabits it. A gate and a garden,an amphi-directional labyrinthine movement,open up the section of the world to the city:Continuity!
Not for the present,it appears as an archaeology of the future,a reevaluation of values and the bringing to the surface of meanings forever latent in the city structure. Utopian?Maybe:for the time being.
Two lots, two versions. Clean versus dirt, serenity versus movement. The concept proposes a reuse of an existing structure for various types of activities. It is a successful case of urban revitalisation that gives back to the city a territory that became residual and only dedicated to cars. The generated spaces are well mastered sceneries that create a friendly and dynamic atmosphere breaking the silence and darkness of the telluric deepness.