Europan 7: Suburban Challenge - urban Intensity and Housing Diversity
(European Architectural Competition)

Project Architects: Natalia Bazaiou I Konstantinos Dimas I Athina Siga
Date: 2003

The site constitutes a shapeless in - between part of a mainly domestic area. Due to the Thivon Avenue that will dichotomize Ilion, the area is going to acquire new identity and importance. The segmentation of the area’s blocks into small – sized land properties, leads to a dense building formation that permits the social interaction and imposes the strengthening of the neighbourhood. Presuming that the neighborhood constitutes an unstable section between social relations, productive procedures and spatial distribution, the current proposal attempts its enforcement, and the re-evaluation of the qualities and the elements it consists of, so as to benefit the inhabitation, as well as the role of the site through the city’s network.
The site has some aspects in need of particular handling, in order to avoid design solutions that would lead to a fragmented character of the urban landscape. Thus, the existence of the Thivon Avenue and the research of a solution that would not interrupt the coherence of the place and the abolition of the neighborhood comprise the main direction of the proposal. Taking as a fact that the digital technology can contribute to the formation of “continuity” in the landscape, we attempt to make the site able to correspond to the technologies’ continuous progress, by forming two interactive systems and not competitive ones. To achieve this, we try to maintain the communication between the two sides of the area, by the creation of an intermediate level between the manmade and the physical setting. This in – between element, bears the  infrastructures and the digital systems, as well as the systems of exploitation of physical energy sources, making the rest urban space “lighter” and permitting the nature to develop freely. It also merges with the physical surrounding, by carrying “pieces of nature”. It is a layer that unifies the neighborhood and at the same time motivates the liberal circulation and the diffusion of activities, even above the Thivon Avenue. As an urban “carpet”, the plane is present without being burdensome, impelling the redefinition of the neighborhood’s public space, as a place of  spontaneous activities and social interaction.
Sustaining the correspondence of the location with the technology transmutations, we install a network of digital media dispersed in the neighborhood, which can act as a system of landmarks. Those digital spaces of information or recreation, of local or translocal range, interact with the “real” urban space and constitute hybrid places of “socialization”, accessible from anyone. In this way, we permit the detachment of activities that used to take place indoors and we achieve the osmosis of the house with the public space and the transition “from the city – residence to the city – neighborhood”. With the public dimension of the “virtual communities”, the dwellers of the site will be able to feel the sense of “belonging” in a social group within the framework of their neighborhood and the area will constitute a vivid part of the city’s network.
In spite of the forceful trend for social and spatial isolation from the “incontrollable form” of the public space, the fundamental role of technology creates the need to reevaluate the gradation of private – public, the creation of new spatial groupings and the transformation of their semantics. In this framework, the encounter of the privacy with the public dimension is being achieved by the placement of the dwellings in vicinity with the street and the communal space of the blocks. It has also been taken into account the fact that the digital revolution has permitted the settlement of work to the electronically equipped house. Given that the intrusion of work at home has augmented the time of staying indoors, we propose the creation of more, flexible spaces, that can receive the new functions, as well as their arrangement in a way that ensures the privacy of inhabitance. On the other hand, the use of wireless systems has made the mobile worker able to use anyplace as a work setting and work can be dispersed in the neighbourhood, which means that aspects such as quality of the environment become decisive. For this reason, we concern particularly for the physical setting, by maintaining its fragmented nature and by making it able to receive any kind of public activities. The houses and their surroundings are being treated not as fixed structures with closed outline, but as flexible procedures in a constant state of flux, able to adapt to rapidly changeable data and to future users or functions.
In tune with the digital technologies’ intrusion in public services, derives the question of their spatial existence. Thereby, we propose the dispersion of stands for financial transactions and the accomplish of public functions within the framework of the neighborhood’s public space. This fact, in combination with the diffusion of commercial and cultural functions in the neighborhood, will transform the site into a multifunctional in – between network place. This will trigger the reinforce of the social, commercial and cultural l local life and the establishment of the site as an urban subsystem, with an important degree of self - sufficiency.