Symi. ground in fructure

25 March, 2016

Symi. ground in fructure

Community spaces in the area of windmills.Cry

Greek version

Students:  Chaikali Theodora,  Xanthopoulou Xanthippi
Supervisor: Tilemachos Andrianopoulos
Consultors: Costas Caradimas, Andreas Kourkoulas
National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture
Presentation date: October 2015

This diploma project is a proposal for intervention in the traditional village of Symi. An experimental introduction of modern functions, materials and activities in a village that time has not touched much. The issue of the traditional settlements in Greece has enormous dimensions. We need to look for efficient ways of intervention and modernization so that they can remain alive covering the needs of their residents. In response to historical settlement question, the diplomatic answers to reuse this remarkable building stock of windmills, by activating an entire region forgotten by time and creating new tumors able to accommodate the new uses.


The interest of Symiot people for art is evident from the early 20th century because of their contact with other European cultures. Regarding the realm of art Symi gave birth to important folk painters, such as Gregory and Karakosti brothers, Mangaphades, monk Neophytos. All of them had also a vast activity in the nearby islands. Carving was another form of art that attracted locals such as John Zouroudis, Elias Tsavaris, the famous sculptor Kostas Valsamis, the famous painter Michael George, the dentist Humbos Volonakis who also is a landscape painter, the director Fotinos Kladakis, the sculptor Anthony Maurikius, the directors Demetrios Maurikius and Yannis Margaritis etc. Actors, musicians, singers, choreographers, teachers, university professors and even scientists were also professions that many locals had in their hearts.



Activities and events regarding Art are held up to today from many individual artists, organized private or municipal groups. The artists working on the island are mostly foreigners, who moved permanently into villages now. Most of them retain private galleries with numerous exhibitions, film screenings, lectures at conferences, gastronomic nights etc. These groups also organize various activities. A larger-scale event takes place on the island, Festival of Symi, organized from 1995 until. The Festival is based on the idea of ​​volunteering.  Profit is an unknown word artists and organizers who are involved. All these activities are hosted in buildings of traditional architecture of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. The  mansion of Chatziagapitou, St. John churchyard and the Panormitis Monastery. Among the before mentioned activities, various sporting events, exhibitions of painting and iconography take place.

Winter months usually settles down things. This does not apply for people living in this island. Female organizations participates in festivals and revival of customs. They organize dance classes and working with individual artists deliver artistry courses referred mainly to children, but also to adults. We can come across these activities in areas like the precincts of the churches, the high school and the courtyard surrounding it , or the spiritual center. A relatively small neoclassical building in the area of Yalos, can barely host the required number of art work or people. The municipality also organizes lectures, conferences, theaters, residents meetings, music lessons for children.

It is being noticed, however, that the places where these activities are hosted are not suitable. They were originally intended for other uses and they cannot support their current role. Capacity, organization of spaces, accesses, and functionality problems arise and are noticeable. These issues, among with the lack of public or private meeting spaces create a need that has to be covered, in the daily lives of residents.

Observing the above issues, in this project, we conclude that the settlement needs community sites of assemblage. The current activities of the municipality and the individuals require this. A closed space theater for multiple activities, a space were children can expand and explore their creativity, a modern laboratory room for young people, would make the locals lives better.

During the choice of location for such functions, the key role was played by the most prominent feature of the village of Symi, that also happens to be its trademark. The beautiful view a visitor has during his entrance to the island's port.



Arriving in the port of Symi with the only means today, the ship, the view impresses. The abrupt transition from the steep cliffs and the wild sea, to the picture of an impressive total. The amphitheatrically scenery of the picturesque neoclassical houses in the port, the crest with the mills that are born from the settlement and end up in Pontikokastro at the end of the village, the colors, the altitude, a magnificent intense set.



The institutional framework that determines the place today is the synthesis of several laws since 1971 that first - classified the island as a historical place, until 2011.

The next feature that someone finds, entering the village is the "Kali Strata", once the only way to climb from Yialos (the port) to Chorio (the village up in the hill).  Walking through these steps, someone begins to discover the interior of the village, to get lost in density, to get tired of the steep slope, and to find now and then optics to the sea, across the mountains and the rest of the settlement between the sides of the houses. This increase leads to the village square. From that point on, the pedestrian has the option either to get lost in the labyrinthine old town to the Castle in the south or to be directed to the Pontikokastro in Northeast. This last route, "Kali Strata" until Pontikokastro, is quite important and  currently  completely untapped.


The route is lost among the houses, fenced property, neglected streets and the abandoned mills. It's being recovered where it is crossed with the main, and only, street for cars. From that point and on, it becomes clear as a path to Pontikokastro and to the opposite side of the mountain, Saint Marina.  This is an area worth mentioning, with ​​19 old windmills with a date of construction estimated back to the period of the Ottoman empire. Today only 6 of them are being used periodically. We could topographical differentiate two main branches of "Myloseira" which literally means the line of windmills, who stand out from the highway crosses. The area is crucial. We are at the limit of the settlement, with the first branch being placed at the ridge of the mountain, and getting lost in the evolution of the settlement, and the second branch being emerged to Pontikokastro away from the settlement. The Pontikokastro is a landmark, as it is an ancient mound, at the hilltop of Noulia, and the dating is still under investigation. It is a landmark both for the whole settlement and for the area, which is called the "Mills".



The proposal of intervention in the settlement, focuses on the activation of the path next to the mills, on the reintegration of the region into the life of the rest settlement and on the reuse of remarkable building stock of 19 mills by simultaneously addressing the need of the settlement for community spaces.

The conception of the composition is based on the idea that the soil in the area was bubbled along the line of the windmills, highlighting the route and the mills, and generating new volumes capable of meeting the current needs of the settlement. Factors influencing the design is the density of the settlement, the sides of the existing volumes, roads, the formulation of the used paths today, the existing gaps, the sightings, the light. Some of the points of the composition are the reuse of windmills and their direct connection to the route, to the new buildings, and by extension to their inhabitants, the game of the two components, route and the line of windmills, the embrace that is created by the new buildings towards the mills with a dividing ravine between. The facades of new buildings, give birth and are originated from the path, always on the side of it, in ceramic bricks to integrate the new with its environment. The new volumes were disclosed only in the facade, with the ceramic, the green roof and the wall that embraces (and in the same time creates the necessary distance between the old) and guides the eye and the body. Inviolable rule in the operation is the ridge of the mills to remain the same, and the settlement not to be agitated by the new buildings, but rather to consolidate and complete both the design of motion, and the usage that will welcome. The branch that is located inside the settlement is mainly organized for facilities regarding children: creative work, art workshops, crafts, and an outdoor amphitheater. Near the "intersection" of the path and the motorway, the mills open for the elderly, while out of the village, on the upper branch are placed populous functions such as a reading area, an indoor theater and an exhibition space.



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