Rooftop as a new ground

22 May, 2015

Rooftop as a new ground

Redesigning Eleftherias (Koumoundourou) square.

Greek version

Students: Eleni Vagianou, Kiriaki Papathanasopoulou
Supervisors: Yannis Aesopos
Architecture Department of Patras
Presentation Date: October, 2014

Starting point of this thesis is the desire to explore the unfamiliar rooftops of the modern, Greek "polykatoikia" and the intention to integrate them into important structures of the vibrant city below. How would it be if the tenants of a "polykatoikia" expressed their needs and desires in a common place, above it? And how could these common spaces organize a public square?

We choose Eleftherias (Koumoundourou) Square. Despite its close distance from important landmarks and memorials and its relatively recent redesign for the Olympic Games, today it is an isolated and inaccessible square, lacking specific identity. The main feature though, it's the multiculturalism and the intense social heterogeneity, which lead us to the reinterpretation of the public space. We imagine it as a set of subspaces in two parallel levels: the ground level and the rooftops of the surrounding buildings-"polykatoikias". 




We focus on specific, dormant elements of the square: The Municipal Gallery [art], currently underutilized, the Agioi Anargiroi Church [religion], that marks the memory of the old, orthodox community, the ancient fragments of the Themistoclean Wall [traces of civilization], which remain buried and finally, the inactive amphitheatre [spectacle]. We aim at their redefinition, through expansion on surrounding rooftops, where we design the followings: a non-denominational chapel, art workshops, a public library and leisure spaces.

By preserving interesting privacy gradations, we achieve either physical or mental connections between the square and the rooftops. The tenants of the "polykatoikia" can always access their rooftops (Function) and have a visual dialogue with the above city (View), while at the same time "carrying" the filtered views to the square, through sound, technology or exchanging actions.



Square Design

The design process doesn't concern a single gesture, but fragments, pieces of a new, three-dimensional entity. We emphasize on the water element and we place a contemporary "water-compass". The structure preserves the pre-existing main circulation axes of the square and at the same time, constitutes its new centre, by organising the relations between the two parallel levels.



Non-denominational Chapel (Respecting the Diversity)

This function meets the religious needs of the new, heterogeneous Koumoundourou's social groups. We use the Agioi Anargiroi Church, which does no longer correspond to the complexity of the square's population.



The dialogue between the square and the rooftop is achieved symbolically, through sound (old and new belfry) and water element. Our intention is the relation with the sky and the user's suggestibility (either the visitor, who strolls around the square or the tenant who prays in the enclosed rooftop chapel).



Art Workshops (Co-exist and Co-operate)

We imagine an exhibition and creation art axis, starting at the Municipal Gallery and as a complementary function, periodical art workshops for young people on rooftop.



The artists' desire to take advantage of "useless garbage-pieces" of Athens, as a raw material of works of art, motivates the immigrants to visit the square, with a view to selling their collected scrap. Therefore, "pieces" of Athens are transformed into works of art that represent the city as a whole, transferring the city view to the square, as the artist has finally, interpreted it and depicted it on an art panel.



Library (Express and Exchange cultural values)

The next intervention is about revealing the very interesting and rich "layering" of the Athenian ground, in order to end up on a rooftop, where the visual relation to the city above comes literally true. Traces of civilization, like the buried Themistoclean Wall, which we bring to light, become parts of the visitors' circulation throughout the square.



The experience is completed by a new, contemporary public library-amphitheatre on surrounding rooftop, where both tenants (students) and visitors can interact, express and finally, exchange their ideas and values, in an open dialogue with the city above.



Leisure Spaces

We imagine an urban furniture in a cruciform shape, which collects the scattered uses and equipment of a rooftop, while at the same time it transforms them into new, leisure activities for the tenants (playground, plants, water element and relaxation space). This structure, which can be applied to any surrounding "polykatoikia", transfers to the square interesting, filtered through everyday uses, views of Athens ex altis. These well-directed pictures are enriched at the square level by visitors' circulations, who participate in an urban, art-shadow game. The new urban screens enhance the amphitheatre's social role, which -from now on- takes on an interesting and alive "stage".


The proposed new layer of the Athenian rooftops, which doesn't tear anything down, but consciously adds to the existing, "still" city of the '60s, provides the square with new, interesting qualities. These fragments, pieces of a three-dimensional entity form a new square, which aspires to be a neighborhood core and a dynamic part of Athens, suggesting finally, a way of thinking and acting for the modern city.

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