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SYNTAGMA SQUARE IN THE NEW DIGITAL ERA

The great electronic and digital revolution is radically changing our lives and our cities. In almost every major city in Europe and in many other parts of the world, great changes are taking place, mainly in the architecture of buildings as well as in the infrastructure of traffic systems – the latter being especially affected and aided by new technologies such as electric cars and applied robotics.

In large European cities, cars have been ostracized from city centres and main squares, converting them to pedestrian-only areas. It is time for Athens to follow this path and progressively move towards the implementation of projects that will upgrade its city centre, namely Syntagma Square and the surrounding area where the Hellenic Parliament is located. Our office, having the previous experience of two architectural competitions announced by EAXA (the company of archaeological sites of Athens), where our proposal was ranked first in the 1999 competition, has now proceeded to an in-depth study of pedestrianizing this area.

ATHENS EVOLVING | YEAR 2025

Today’s state of Syntagma Square with the construction of the Athens metro system and the creation of the Syntagma Metro Station, the square turned from a recreation area, into a transit point through to the Ermou pedestrian street as well as towards the surrounding urban structure. Even though two architectural competitions were conducted by the Committee for the Integration of Archaeological Sites a few years ago, and the square as a result was restructured but the issue of pedestrian traffic between the surrounding urban environment and the metro and tram, was not effectively resolved.

This has resulted in a current state where, especially on the side of Filellinon Street towards the Ermou pedestrian street, we notice a confusing cluster and congestion of vehicles, public transport, cars, etc. all passing through an inefficient light signal. Pedestrians are thus forced to cross, in record time, a six-lane wide street to safely reach the opposite sidewalk of Ermou street.

This current situation is not merely an obstacle for everybody, but essentially prevents people with special needs as well as parents with young children from crossing this lengthy route without the fear of being injured by passing vehicles. In addition to this, the pedestrianized street of Ermou at its one end narrows down extensively, to the point where the pavement is packed with tables from surrounding patisseries and cafes, preventing citizens from easily passing through.
In light of all these concerns that have occupied our city planners, our public services and our industry, our office team, which has also participated in the previous two architectural competitions of EAXA as mentioned above, has recently examined the issue and proposes a solution that is analyzed in our updated version of the 2018 proposal.

Our study focuses in the following main issues:

  • The organization of the western area of the square with new elements that will facilitate the movement of pedestrians and their separation from vehicular traffic.
  • Ways to allow the pedestrian coming from the east side of the square and the metro station to have access to the major shopping centre of the capital, namely Ermou street and the western part of the commercial triangle without any obstacles.
  • In detail, the purpose of the study is:
  • To facilitate pedestrian traffic from the square to Ermou street without interruption from the current of cars.
  • The separation of vehicular traffic routes: cars, trolleybus and taxi.
  • To distance noise and exhaust fumes from the street from the coffee area near Ermou street.
  • To increase the green area in the western part of the square with the creation of a new square surface of 4150 m2, tangential to Ermou pedestrian street and with recreation areas for the citizens.
  • To create a pleasant environment with thought-through coffee shop locations away from the noise and car traffic and by barring traffic noise pollution with a “wall” of high trees.
  • The implementation process of this project has two phases: an intermediate phase that can be realized immediately and a final phase, ie a square without any vehicles that extends throughout the area from one building block to the other (the study includes both phases).
  • This process is done with respect to and retention of all the old elements of the existing square (fountain, preserved columns, etc.). Our office’s study for the rest of the square suggests increasing the green and recreation areas and creating spaces for municipal events.
  • In support of this proposal, efforts have been made to solve the traffic problem of cars around the area, although in the very near future they will disappear and will be replaced by small electric robotic cars and small units of transport, airborne Shuttles which will be driven by electromagnetism on a rail.

Involving the general public

  • Suggestions for seminars, workshops, presentations, events, parties etc. in special existing areas on both sides of the north and south near the METRO exits and in the the western part of the new square near Ermou street.
  • Creating an online platform that will gather feedback from citizens about what they would like in the future for their urban environment and how they see the development of their travel routes being accommodated in the future as well as informing the citizens on practical administrative issues.
  • A Public Consultation / Data gamification platform.
  • This proposal may also apply to telecommunication companies to build digital Communication Hubs (possibly with Virtual Reality and Holograms etc.)
ATHENS METROPOLIS | YEAR 2050

This study does not interfere with the requested proposals of the architectural competition published on 7th of February 2019, but goes beyond the limits set by its specifications, contributing to the effort to upgrade the heart of Athens.
Our proposal has not been funded by any organization and has been notarized in 2018.

©akalab architects • APEX S.A. | 2019

Architecutral Design:
aka lab architects • APEX S.A
Architectural Concept:
Dimitris Kataropoulos
Project Architects:
Dimitris Kataropoulos, Stathis Kataropoulos
3D Design:
Aris Georgiadis
Visualizations:
Chryssa Daflouka, Niki Ladikou
copyright:
Apex S.A. 2018
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akalab architects @ 2018