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Junk to park over ancient Athens

Object and Urbanism

Dimosio Sima forms part of the walk that connects the 3 main archeological sites of Classical Athens: the Acropolis, the Kerameikos Cemetery, and Plato’s Academy. It is one of Athens’s most important archeological sites. Awaiting the day when excavations will start, the site has for a long time been a junkspace full of decrepit buildings and garbage, wounding an already degraded neighborhood.

Local inhabitants and volunteers joined forces to change this space into a temporary park. doxiadis+ volunteered the design and construction organization and supervision of the park, and participated in the volunteer works.

The design, the forms, the materials

The design REDUCES, REUSES and RECYCLES. The demolition materials are used to create the new park, in a design that maintains elements from the pre-existing buildings.

The neighborhood has very few opens spaces, and these are heavily used. Given the need for a high-use, very low maintenance space, the park is reduced to its bare essentials: a rubble podium, planting soil mounds, simple stone benches, and resilient vegetation.

The main concept of the design is for the space to look like an archaeological site that is ready to be excavated. This image is compiled by a plot filled with traces of archaeological ruins. Together with the red earth of the hills, the lime materiality of the gravel, and the Mediterranean vegetation, this is a symbolic distillation of the Attic landscape.

All material used for the creation of the park, apart from small quantities of planting soil, and the plants themselves, have been recycled or reused on site. Thus the exterior walls of the demolished buildings are used as retaining walls at the perimeter of the site, the demolition stones are used to create the benches and the stone covered mound, and the rubble is used to create the flat podium of the park.

As no excavation and planting may take place over the ancient ruins, a podium is formed creating a new ground at 70cm above the road level. The creation of the planted hills is not only a part of a typical “archaeological site” image but also a way to protect the archaeological ruins that may exist below ground. Planting trees on a hill will protect the archaeological findings from the tree roots and it will make it easier to be removed when the excavations of the antiquities will commence.  

The realization

The realization had its own ecology, that of community involvement and empowerment (rare in Athens).

The works at the site started on the 11/04/2011 and were completed 6 days later.

Most of the material was reused on site.

The scrap metal and the bricks were collected by the neighborhood Roma.

The biggest challenge of the project was to create with very limited means (money, materials and time) a revitalized urban space that has archaeological connotations.

Eight NGOs, eight sponsors (including doxiadis+), and numerous local inhabitants participated in the project. Through volunteerism and the sensitive design strategy, the park was created in 6 days for a mere €3000.

Location

Dimosio Sima, Keramikos, Athens, Greece

Area

1000 m²

Date

April 2011

Scope

Landscape Design, Construction Management and Supervision