Rethink Athens is a European Architectural Competition organized and funded by the Onassis Foundation promoting the revitalization of the Athenian center. Undoubtedly, this is the most ambitious effort, among a series of architectural competitions on public spaces or buildings, to shape downtown Athens and stimulate growth towards resiliency – to use the socially friendly mirror term of sustainable development.
The competition was set against the background of a crisis that during the past years has magnified urban and social ills – not to mention nationalist spirit, and this is probably the reason that the results have generated an unprecedented political paraphernalia on the Athenian urbanism.
While waiting the much promised debate on the objectives and development of the project, worths considering other proposals that have contributed in their way, yet barely discussed.
The second prize was awarded to a group of young architects (Kiki Ilousi, Oihana Iturritxa Kerexeta, Dimitris Gourdoukis, Theodora Christoforidou, Katerina Tryfonidou, Fotis Vasilakis) whose proposal, much alike the winning one, figured a network of open and green spaces around the central intervention axis, integrated in the Athenian ecosystem.
The utopian proposal award went to Kostas Tsiambaos and Myrto Kiourti who suggested a different land ownership structure stating that “the catalyst towards a new city center will be its active and responsible citizens and not its superficially redesigned image”.
The winning proposal “One Step Beyond” was submitted by OKRA, in collaboration with Mixst urbanism and Wageningen University. In the forthcoming months, OKRA will develop a plan scheduled for implementation in 2015, under the auspices of the Onassis Foundation and via European Funding. Provided that such an option is still on the table…