The Re-think Athens project is launching the transformation of the center of Athens in 2016! Extending from Amalias Avenue and Syntagma Square to Omonoia Square and the Archaeological Museum, the city will reclaim its public space and will evolve into a unique place, where citizens from every corner of Athens can meet, both in commercial and leisure activities. Upon the completion of the ‘Re-think Athens’ Architectural Competition, the transformation of the city center along Panepistimiou Street will be ready for implementation.
Within the framework of its public benefit activity, the Onassis Foundation responds to the present need for urban revival by funding and organizing the competition and all the Architectural, Bioclimatic and Technical Studies relative to this aspiring project. Its aim is to improve the quality of everyday life for the citizens by providing the conditions of environmental upgrade, restitution of the urban environment and improvement of the microclimate by planting trees, constructing shelters and prescribing the use of eco-friendly public means of transport which will reduce emissions and will create an inviting environment for both pedestrians and cyclists. All of the above, combined with other initiatives, will help reverse the climate of social and financial decline and restore the many vacant buildings back into activity, revitalizing thus the most central parts of the city.
Nowhere in the world has an emblematic, multifunctional metropolitan avenue endowed with such a rich architectural heritage been reserved exclusively for traffic. Even the iconic “trilogy” area, which consists of a wonderful architectural ensemble reflecting the historical and cultural character of the city, keeps being aesthetically downgraded and reserved exclusively for traffic. Today, more than ever, we have the duty to become visionaries while retaining a firm grasp on reality. This is the right time to re-think Athens and assign new meaning to the city center.
Panepistimiou Street becomes part of an urban and architectural ‘ring’ that links the pedestrian zone of the archaeological sites with the most significant archaeological museums of the city as well as with the most significant focal points of cultural and commercial activity in the city. Omonoia Square, formerly a roundabout, will now be transformed into an actual square. The backbone of the project will be a new tramline connecting Amalias Avenue with Panepistimiou Street and Patission Street. The functional and environmental upgrade of the city center will shed light upon its most obscure areas. Panepistimiou Street and Omonoia Square can become the most vibrant parts of the city. We all have the right to a friendlier, more inviting city which favors multiple functions involving trade, services, housing, culture and entertainment.
The Onassis Foundation organized and funded a two-stage European architectural competition and will further provide the funds required for all the necessary studies of implementation. The objective is the collection of proposals that will awaken, inspire and reveal possibilities that reflect the character of the city and promote a healthy future image of a lively metropolis that keeps evolving. The first stage of the competition was concluded in October 2012, when 9 proposals were selected out of a total of 71 submissions. The first-stage international jury also selected a “utopian” proposal and awarded mentions to three more proposals. The second stage of the competition was concluded in February 2013 with the final evaluation of the 9 short-listed proposals by a new international jury that awarded the prizes.
For the implementation of this competition, the Onassis Foundation has signed, as sponsor, a legal Agreement with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the former Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Networks (now called Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Transport, Infrastructure and Networks), the Attiko Metro S.A., as well as memoranda of collaboration with the Attica Prefecture and the Municipality of Athens. For the preparation of the final studies and the funding of the projects through EU funds, the Foundation is already collaborating with the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Transport, Infrastructure and Networks, as well as with a number of other institutions that will greatly contribute to the successful coordination of the project.
Athens was designated to be a great European capital whose center would retain its human scale. At the very core lies a deep historical stratification, while around evolves a vibrant modern universe along with all its contradictions. The intervention on and around Panepistimiou Street will revive the city center by enhancing its commercial and financial activities, by the environmental and aesthetic upgrade of the public space, the promotion of its historical and cultural heritage and by making the city center more accessible to all citizens.
Athens can finally become the vibrant metropolis it deserves to be.
The new metropolitan Athens looks forward into its future.