Athens is felt to be a city hostile to outdoor public life. This study, beginning in 2006 and continuing to the present, aims to identify the causes of this failure in terms of the physical structure of public space, and proposes a system for the effective reuse of the existing road network to provide for quality public life.
Landscape Ecology is used as a conceptual basis for the study, by developing a set of analogies between its principles and urban structure. In the typical neighborhoods of the center of Athens, only 1-3% of the total area is true civic space, while another 27-30% is the road network. This urban space is currently occupied by cars, serving as a huge parking lot. In terms of corridors, the “network” of pedestrian and bicycle roads does not exist, as they are scattered and unconnected.
The solution proposed is based on the above characteristics: the opportunity to turn part of the ample road network into public space; and the need to use the same network to provide for very good everyday-life connectivity. Based on Living Streets and Shared Space, a system of three overlapping networks is proposed, controlling use through speed: the 5km/h life-scapes, prioritizing public life. The 15km/h coexistence-scapes, allowing simultaneous public life and neighborhood-scale movement. And the 50km/h speed-scapes, serving metropolitan-scale transportation. The post-asphalt landscapes are at once movement corridors and public spaces, creating a network to seed life back into the city.
The proposed strategy is applied to the KM Kerameikos – Metaxourgio area, proposing a redefinition of the existing road network to establish connectivity both within the neighborhood and to integrate it into the rest of the city, simultaneously providing for a set of sorely needed public spaces.