REUSE OF URBAN SPACE, THESSALONIKI, GREECE
INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION
LIDA DITSA, PANOS KOUNTOURAS,
LIDA DITSA, PANOS KOUNTOURAS,
USE: URBAN DESIGN
LOCATION: ATHESSALONIKI, GREECE
OWNER: MUNICIPALITY OF THESSALONIKI
TOTAL AREA: 5.000 M²
Amongst the available sites of the competition, there was a pick of one that was considered to be of the highest historic and urbanistic significance, which curiously at the same time is characterized by abandonment , lack of attention and absence of design.
The unformed flat space lying over the Church of Agios Dimitrius, is the one end of the basic axis (axe de la ville), of the urban plan of Hernest Herbrard for Thessaloniki, in which an imposing monument was to be built, "Temple de la Victoire".
The axis is continued with the yard of the church of Saint Dimitrius, the Roman Market, Dikastiriwn Square, Aristotelous st., and finally Aristotelous Square with a semicircular opening towards the sea. These openings of the city web consist a linear urban void of great importance, a vertical ‘cut’ on the canvas but with no landmark to signify it. Between the square and the church lies an archeological site, unformed yet, with a quite rich range of findings- parts of ancient walls, marble poles and decorations etc-. It is part of the proposal to reveal and take advantage of this space’s capabilities.
Due to the chaotic complex that comes as a result of the synthesis of the Church, the irregularity of the archeological site and the urban environment, a minimal approach with definite lines and the use of few materials is proposed, yet with an intended strong symbolism.
In this way, a plain plateau is formed out of brushed industrial flooring material which incorporates pieced concrete elements that act as floor lights using low energy lamps. There are three main accesses : a central at ground level, a staircase on the east and a ramp on the west. This basic plateau is stretched to overhang over the antiquities enabling a limitless view to the sea front .
The basic gesture created in the new background is the construction of a linear steel structure initiating from the ground as a seater and then lifting to a height of 13.30 meters to form an arch, exactly at the point where the axis is. This structure made of painted black steel and frosted glass parts acts as a frame, a window to portrait the vanishing point towards the sea front
There are vertical elements-chords that are made of steel wire beams which are twisted to create a peculiar light source giving an irregular rhythm to the arch-gate.
The conceptual rotation of the arch to the horizontal level creates a stand on which a glass is embodied. This stand acts as a balcony over the archeological space, enables the overview of the urban context and also a ‘chilling’ sense of the void.
In the rear part of the square is put a channel of water with a series of poles corresponding those of the gate. These are also an outcome of twisted steel wire beams, yet with a larger radius and with the addition of light spheres on irregular heights. The succession of this elements creates a light panel on which the whole synthesis is inscribed.
The whole complex due to the height of the structures is perceived by a wide range of observators, even from a long distance. The glowing diadem can be seen even from the sea achieving the role of a recognizable landmark.