2015 | Dec
The plan for the “revival of the city centre along Panepistimiou” named “Re-think Athens” is part of a larger metropolitan plan developed thanks to the initiative of the Ministry of Environment and the Athens Planning Organization, as part of the 2021 Regulatory Plan. One of the main requirements of that plan is a new approach towards pedestrian and vehicle circulation in the city centre with the aim of upgrading and developing public spaces in terms of their function and quality. The idea is to prevent traffic flows through the city centre and at the same time to develop public transport and car accessibility, when the centre is the destination of those trips. In this way, Panepistimiou Street has been included in an urban and architectural ring connecting areas of dense cultural and commercial activity with key archaeological sites and the big archaeological museums.
The overall intervention is approximately 3 km long and redefines traffic flows from Dionysiou Areopagitou Str. to the Archaeological Museum. In particular the tram line goes from Syntagma Sq. into Panepistimiou Str. until it reaches the end of Patission Str. This design does not envisage a fully pedestrian area but the combined use of streets by pedestrians, trams, special taxi routes, buses and other service-related vehicles, as well as bikes via a bike lane which is part of the new metropolitan network. By giving priority to pedestrians in an avenue dominated by cars, the plan proposes a new type of urban centrality that can redefine the meaning of the metropolitan centre. Urban design can contribute in breathing new life into the city centre, significantly improving its contradictory elements.
The urban design element of the plan was procured via an architectural competition. Given the financial crisis, and considering the project’s necessary and immediate character, the Ministry of the Environment sought the sponsorship of the Onassis Foundation which eventually managed the procurement process under specific conditions and funded all the necessary studies under the supervision of the Ministry. The competition took place between May 2012 and February 2013 and was won by the Dutch architectural firm OKRA & Associates . The final studies were carried out by numerous, mainly Greek, consultant firms .
From an architectural and urban planning point of view, the plan is simple and highly operational, with minimalist aesthetics. It intervenes in public space by providing citizens with space for their activities and at the same time highlights the city’s architecture. This latest point is one of its most important characteristics, given that the route from Amalias Str. to Panepistimiou Str. and Patission Str. features a succession of historical buildings of exquisite architecture that need to be highlighted in an almost “natural” manner in the eyes of the citizens.
The two main squares included in the proposal, Omonia Sq. and Dikaiosynis Sq., will be re-designed to include walking spaces whereas stops with trees and water features are expected to operate as attractive meeting points. Omonia Sq. will re-acquire the square shape of its initial neoclassical plan. Dikaiosynis Sq. will become better connected to the surrounding area, while special attention will be paid to the features of the neoclassical Printing Office.
- Τουρνικιώτης Π (2012) Μεταλλασσόμενοι χαρακτήρες και πολιτικές στα κέντρα πόλης Αθήνας και Πειραιά. Αθήνα.