Routes of initiation in Eleusina

21 August, 2015

Routes of initiation in Eleusina

Signification of two basic routes in the town of Eleusina emphasizing in the creation of spaces hosting performances and activities in the endings of those routes.

Greek version

Φοιτήτριες: Tsirepa Aikaterini, Chalkiadaki Eleni
Επιβλέπων: Mattheos Papavasileiou
Σύμβουλοι:E.Klabatsea, E.Tsakanika, P.Vasilatos
School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens
Ημ/μηνία παρουσίασης: 23/7/2015

We are suggesting the signification of two basic routes in the town of Eleusina connecting the town center both with the seafront, in order to enhance this vitally important part of the town and with the historical "layers" of the town, starting from the archaeological site, continuing to the industrial complex and ending to today, which is being formed in the seafront and today's cultural events.

In our attempt to include performances in an organised way as a means of urban design, we choose the town of Eleusina, trying to solve some of its basic problems emphasizing the town's culture, because of the active and important part it is playing in the life of the city.

Eleusina is located in West Attica, in a distance of 23 km outside of Athens city. Despite the intense presence of historical legacy in the town, the axes which connect its history, are remaining deserted, especially during winter and aren't being reclaimed by the town's inhabitants. What's more, the seafront is quite fragmented and abandoned because of the land uses of heavy industry and the commercial port. That's why many studies have been conducted for the decontamination of the seafront and its revitalisation. These plans are also integrated in european programs and legislative frameworks.

For the analysis of the area we firstly used diagrams for the pedestrian circulation. In those we can see that in summer, the sidewalk of Nikolaidou street, which is adjacent to the archaeological site, as well as the seafront, have much more pedestrian traffic, mainly due to the cultural events that take place in the industrial complex of Elaiourgeio (Aischilia Festival), than in winter, when those areas remain almost completely deserted. We also used as tools the isovist and boundary line diagrams, from which geometries and paths have arised and then used in our regeneration design.



The rebirth of the city during the summer, replaces the deserted landscape of winter and the events taking place are composing a different character of the town. This duality in the function of the town, led us to connect it with the Greek myth existing in Eleusina, about the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. According to this myth,  the land flourishes only when Persephone returns rising from the underworld back into her mother's arms, while in winter because of the rage of the goddess that her daughter is taken away to Hades, nothing grows. It symbolizes the cycle of life in the two parts of the earth where birth through the earth replaces destruction and death.



Our intervention scenario, with the occasion of the coherence of those dualities of the myth with the town function, is signifying two routes in the urban space which are deriving symbolisms from the Greater and Lesser Mysteries that took place in Eleusina. The route of 'initiation' ('myesis' in greek) and 'contemplation' ('epopteia' in greek) begins from the trace of Iera Odos (the ancient greek road) which exists in the same place today, from which the procession of the initiates entered the city and continued to the Telesterion, the temple in which the mysteries took place, for the highest rank of initiation, the 'contemplation', where the initiates watch the goddes appear before their eyes. This is where we intervene, placing a wooden deck from which a wooden structure emerges as if one is witnessing the development of the dance movements of Persephone while she is rising from the underworld. The whole structure has no foundations so as not to spoil the archaeological site. The route leads to the entrance of the industrial complex of Eleourgio, where the current events and performances take place and the contemporary history of Eleusina is being written through the active people of the town.


The other route, the one of 'catharsis', begins from Nikolaidou street leading straight to the sea, which symbolizes purification. Where the route is ending, spreading itself in the seascape, we are forming convenient and inviting spaces to host cultural events. Our pursuit was to form a gradual transition from the hard material of the city to an ephemeral and fluid landscape, which redefines the edge with the sea in a way that water is 'corroding' the hardscape. Thus, extrusions and recesses in the hard material are suggested, which can also serve as seatings adjacent to the water. A first zone of soft materials is created and then the cast flooring from gravels and aggregates with the color of sand, looks like it is being erased where it meets the coast, integrating itself with the sand. For the choices of the materials, the plantings and the placement of the shelters, we followed some fundamental sustainability rules, such as water permeability of the materials and orientation of the sunshades.



The urban equipment is also taking fluid forms with curvatures resulting from body movement, an element inherent in performances. The seatings and shelters are formed as if they are peeled off the ground,as a reference to the importance of the emergence from the underworld which is highlighted in the myth.



We are also placing a tensile membrane structure for the hosting of events, providing shade from the sun during the daytime.



Trying to extend our research on how performances can be spread into the city, we explored a system working with wi-fi and infrared motion sensors, which trace the movement of visitors in a particular spot of the part of the seafront we are regenerating and trigger a path of light beams across the two routes, mainly in their nodal spots.





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