RE-THINK ATHENS, Athens, Greece
OKRA landschapsarchitecten

Transforming the city
On behalf of the Greek Government Onassis Foundation has organized an international competition for regeneration of Athens’ City Centre. On all front pages of the newspapers the winning entry of OKRA was described as what the city really needs for change.
Decades of rapid growth in Athens caused infrastructural problems and social-cultural imbalance, against a background of difficult economic circumstances. The decline is clearly visible, low quality of life and a shortage of green in a severe environment.
One Step Beyond
Changing the Athens’ heart into a true contemporary metropolitan city centre requires transformation of the city triangle into a lively and attractive part of the city. OKRA has put innovative theories on climate control, reduction of vehicular movement and programming public realm into practise. By moving one step beyond and creating an integrated proposal a resilient, accessible and vibrant city will be realized. This area will be linked to its adjacent areas thus becoming a catalyst for the whole city, providing a new network of public and semi-public spaces, defining new places where people can enjoy and ultimately, encourage new developments.
Resilient City 
OKRA’s plans to transform Athens’ city centre into a green network includes a resiliency strategy with specific attitudes towards reducing urban heat and improving thermal comfort. The greening strategy is combined with a water strategy, since perfect condition of plantings is crucial to contribute to heat mitigation. Capturing rainwater in underground basins (for 14,5 Millions of litres), on top of roofs or elsewhere helps to keep the water in the area. Calculations, signed off by the Greek Universities underline that Athens’ city centre will be self sufficient for planting during dry periods and EnviMet models have proven that temperature reduction of 1.5-3.0 degrees Celcius will be achieved during a hot summer day. 
Accessible city
The green framework will be treated as a coherent network of public realm in all directions and linking the adjacent neighbourhoods. Restoration of continuities of the crossing streets creates continuity in the walking experience. By making the new tramline part of the grandeur of the space it contributes to the aimed cohesion. In fact, Panepistimiou provides Shared space 2.0, a new balance between slow traffic and motorized movement.
Economical Activation
The regeneration of the city centre will strongly contribute to the change of Athens. It will improve the environment of the city plus activating the area economically. Occupying and transforming ground floors, OKRA introduces the concept of the theatre of 1000 rooms towards vacant buildings, organizing cultural events and shift focal points for a new vibrant atmosphere. Small open-air podia for outdoor initiatives will be created in public realm. 
The plans have been developed up till construction details and have been shown in an exhibition at Syntagma and in 20 vacant shops along Panepistimiou. Realisation of the plans will tackle anonymous space and demonstrate that urban vibrancy can be combined with creating a green and pedestrian friendly spine, contributing to quality of life and living in Athens.
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