Rethinking the Ground: Athens and the Horizontal Development of its Ground Floor

By Fabiano Micocci.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

More than any other Mediterranean major city, Athens has experienced an increase in the occupation of its soil due to urban development in the years after World War II. This has resulted in a controversial relationship between the modern city and its history, as represented by the old city, and a thriving and well-defined landscape. The Acropolis, with its untouchable aura, and the surrounding hills that emerge from the compact and homogeneous plateau of roofs erasing the original ground, stand as isolated landmarks. The absence of public space excludes any kind of visual and functional relationship with these recognizable territorial points of reference. It is thus necessary to re-think the territory of Athens in order to rehabilitate the characteristic configuration of the landscape taking into account the fact that Athens is a base ground city. This paper analyzes the possibility of a horizontal development of architectonical interventions placed at the ground level of the existing city. Because the natural space is totally filled with buildings, it is essential to operate in an intersecting way with the urban fabrics. Subtracting a portion from the ground floor of the urban blocks allows the re-discovery of the all closed internal courtyards and the creation of new typologies of spaces as a variation on the original grid configuration of roads, where all the public uses are allocated. The objective is to raise awareness of the ground as a thing of cultural and ecological value instead of simply considering it as an economic device.

Keywords: Mediterranean, Landscape, Density, Sustainability, Public Space, Horizontal, Residential, Social

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.139-162. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 16.511MB).

Dr. Fabiano Micocci

Independent Practitioner, Athens, Greece

Dr. Fabiano Micocci is an architect working on public and residential spaces, and on the relationship between architecture and landscape. He is a founding member of NEAR architecture, a network of architects working on small and large scale design as well as theoretical research. He graduated from University Roma Tre in 2002 with the thesis "Study Center for the Regional Landscape Painting in the Lazio” that received the XV International Symposium of Urban Culture award at Camerino, Italy. His PhD degree, obtained from the University of Florence (2010) with the thesis “Mediterranean Topographies: Michelucci, Tavora Pikionis and the idea of the Mediterranean 1945–1964”, was focused on architectural practice in the Mediterranean after WWII. He has participated in several international conferences and workshops (Eindhoven, Lisbon, Athens, Venice, Chania, Bergamo, Prato, Rome and Los Angeles) and has taken part in various international architectural competitions, receiving several prizes. His present research focuses on the Mediterranean cities, combining landscape and history, public spaces and geography. He currently works in Rome and Athens and he is fellow of the Urban Transcript collective.