23 July, 2011

Japanese invasion in the center of Athens

Alteration of five rooftops into Japanese gardens.

Greek version

Student: Andronikidou Georgia
Supervisor professor: Eleni Tatla
Department of Interior Architecture, Decorative Arts and Design
Presentation Date: May 2011





The dissertation project is divided into two parts. The first part explores the history and ideology of the Japanese gardens, the contemporary Japanese architects, D. Pikioni, the green rooftops and the photovoltaic systems. The second part studies the alteration of five rooftops into Japanese gardens where they are redefined as terrestrial paradises.

The rich cultural past, the unbreakable relationship with nature and rapid technological development of Japan, made cause for research and was the source of inspiration to adapt forms and ideas in the center of Athens. The trigger point was the Taoist myth of the five islands, somewhere in the Far East, where the locals came to immortality. The legend says that giant sea turtles carried on their backs the beautiful islands making them impossible to find. The desire for eternal youth at Divine places is something that man has been tirelessly searching. The five rooftops will thus represent the five islands trying to reach the legendary beauty.

The lack of green in Athens and the need to get closer to nature, seeing the seasons change, was also a stimulus for the actualization of this project. Finally, the force to turn into alternative forms of energy prompted the adaptation of photovoltaic into this project.

The purpose of this project is the creation of terrestrial paradises. Apart from the functional utilization of the five rooftops into places of amusement and green, the intervention is an expression of artistic concern in the absolute beauty wabi (simplicity), sabi (patina), suki (elegance), as understood in the Japanese tradition. When the wabi, sabi and suki are in perfect balance, then we achieve the beauty and the divine, and we get closer to God by creating our own paradise.

The idea is the "exodus" from the real city, a surprise in the chaos of Athens, the contact with nature, the escape from the hectic pace and problems, a promise of peace of mind, spiritual uplifting, creative thinking and quality time.

The roofs are flat as the Japanese shape their gardens according to the environment and never vice versa, consequently we need logic to create the basis for planning. As the Pre-Socratic philosophers believed that the world was created by the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether, so do the Japanese have the equivalent elements only they interpret them as forces.

The five roofs are the mythical paradise islands, the modern Japanese gardens. The garden of Earth, the symbol of the square - cube, becomes a garden for walking (kaiyū-shiki) and hosts a Dojo (martial arts training site); The garden of Water, symbolized by the circle - sphere, becomes a garden hill lake (chisen-Kaiyu-Skiki); The garden of Fire, symbolized by the triangle, pyramid, becoming flat garden (Hiraniwa) dry landscape (karesansui); The garden of Air, symbolized by curves, half ball, becomes a garden pond style kanshoh; The garden of Void is symbolized by an amorphous and constantly changing drop, becomes a garden SO informal style. Particular emphasis has been placed over the common area of the rooftop (belvedere) of each building in the landscaped terrace, influenced by contemporary Japanese architects (Kenzo Tange, Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito, Shin Takamatsu, Shigeru Ban kg.). The end of the staircase has been formed in each garden as the gateway to paradise.

I hope that this would be an interesting trip for visitors, prompting them to compare the Japanese aesthetic with their own fluid concept of beauty. Humans need Nature for its richness and uniqueness, this is inevitability. We often forget how refreshing nature is and how much power it gives us. Nature is absent from the urban environment, although it could easily be subsumed into it. Should we reconsider? Shall we assume that creating our own paradise in the cities isn't a lost cause? Does this give us the boost we need to live effectively reevaluating our position in the world to create a better tomorrow?











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