Re-thinking my city

In a column published in Kathimerini, on August 13, 2013, Yannis Ioannides criticizes a proposed urban intervention that would convert Panepistimiou Street, a major thoroughfare in downtown Athens, into a pedestrian street. The Athens downtown has been hit hard by the crisis and its revitalization would bring major benefits to the entire Athens metropolitan area and indeed to the entire Greek economy, as well. The experience with urban renewal projects worldwide is that they typically help revitalize a city’s economy if they strengthen what makes a city’s economy “tick,” namely the coexistence of many different activities, resulting in boosting the productivity of any single one of them. The particular intervention being criticized has been proposed by a consortium of landscape architects and has been awarded the first prize by an international competition, titled “Re-think Athens,” that has been commissioned by the Onassis Foundation. The essence of Ioannides’ criticism is that the proposal redevelopment does not mesh well with the role that Panepistimiou Street plays in the urban fabric of modern Athens. The proposed intervention is of minimal urban complexity, accentuates the monumental character of that particular part of modern Athens, and does not offer elements of economic renewal because it fails to link with principal economic activities in the city of Athens. Furthermore, by rerouting traffic, it would further weaken the city center and create undue congestion elsewhere in several areas of downtown Athens.

About Y_Ioannides

Tufts University

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