Rethink athens
Team :AETER architects
2nd Runner-up

The objective of this competition was the urban reconstitution of the centrality of contemporary Athens through the redefinition of pedestrian and vehicular circulation in the city centre, in the prospect of reinforcing functionality and the enhancement of quality in public space.

Vehicular traffic dominates the Panepistimiou experience for all who use it. Motorists are enclosed in a tense vehicular corridor, the dense traffic and fast speeds disabling them from a visual experience of the surrounding landscape. Pedestrians are submerged in the subsequent emissions and noise, unable to truly experience the street’s beautiful buildings and sights. Athenians recognize the value of Panepistimiou Street but ultimately avoid it as they are isolated from existing public spaces like the Trilogy, Justice Square and Omonoia Square. The city’s automobile-centric urban strategy creates this disconnect, and results in Panepistimiou lacking the urban anchors, equipment and sufficient vegetation necessary for pedestrian attraction.

The aim of this proposal is to emerge Panepistimiou street into a public space which will become the platform for actions that create conditions for the revitalization of the city centre.

Terraced Belvederes, following the street’s slope, organize it into specific zones corresponding
with adjacent buildings, streets and neighborhoods and define usable areas for leisure, play, entertainment, cultural activities and markets. Program element ideas are derived from adjacent vertical street names which represent Greek history, with design elements
complimenting specific program. Belvederes occupy the center of the street with specific edge treatment and heights depending on their length and program. The adjacent hardscape on either side retains the street’s original downward slope for pedestrian paths, tram lines, bicycle lanes and service vehicles. These terraces also play a crucial role in establishing an extensive stormwater harvesting system throughout the biggest part of the intervention area. They integrate water tanks which collect filtered run-off to be used for irrigation, a catalyst for a sustainable urban forest strategy in Athens.

The Belvederes are an urban landscape element which will characterize the entire center of
Athens. It is topography, infrastructure, platform and sculpture at the same time. Constructed
of Greek white marble, their sculptural quality reflects the tradition of ancient Greek architecture, its monolithic stonework and the Stylobate of the Greek temples. The Belvederes of Athens - an urban incubator for a healthy city centre. The Belvederes are a linear urban incubator which provides individual public spaces for different user groups and activities.
The individual terraces/rooms of the Belvederes slow down the spatial movement down the hill. The street changes from being a corridor and transitional space to a destination and place for different activities.
The Belvederes create individual platforms/rooms for a wide range of public activities. They also enable ground floor locations along Panepistimiou Street to extend their program ontothe street and its belvederes. This could be outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants or
additional stalls and displays for shops. An alley of black poplar trees on each side of the tram tracks visually shields off this busy and fast pace strip from the rest of the street space.