Think Public Space SECOND ROUND
Work title: Shrinking Cities - Expanding Territories
a landscape is not, as perceived by some, a mere combination of land, plants and water.
it is the projection of the soul of people upon matter.
The paradigm for this study is the capital city of Greece, Athens. Due to the financial crisis that Greece is facing since 2008, Athens has been subjected to native population loss caused by both domestic and international immigration. Locked and empty spaces, which appear constantly in any possible scale without following any motif, are the imprint of the aforementioned state. How can a saturated city deal with sudden fragments of desolation? Is it a decline situation or a new path to prosperity? This proposal aims to find mechanisms in designing the loss in order to prevent a “depression era” that may follow either a crisis situation or any other case with similar after effects, strictly preserving the identity that each place holds. For that reason, the design tool will be the landscape itself.
It is not only the great variety that the Athenian landscape shows, that fuels this approach. Land is seen, as the predominant, omnipresent ‘nature’ of being; it sets the basis for every human activity, it generates the rule of any creation and it holds the cultural production of every country. For that reasons the notion of public space, in this essay, will get integrated and identified with that of land/landscape. In that way, land becomes the essence of the identity and the personality of the place, embedding the historicality and the intelligence of each ‘topos’ in it’s depth.
In order to both illustrate and comprehend the power of this entity, it is crucial to move away from the common representative ways, namely the isolines. The preliminary goal is to understand the ground not as a surface, but as a body, a mass and a volume; a volume that flows continuously, without separation between upper and under, operating as a continuous system with multiple entryways but with no fixed order, expanding in ‘n’ dimensions and directions. Stepping on that instance, the city is born; delving matter, reposing it in its foundation and engraving traces of order (roads). It is a process that takes time and it’s not linear. Diverse forms, broken and shattered, starting up again on the old and new lines. It is a procedure of becoming rather than simply being. The body of city violates the body of nature, which then comes back to “take revenge”. The dissolved boundaries of the two bodies, create multiple temporalities which are called “the modern city”, delineating the ephemeral, dynamic rhythm of it.
However, it is not a story of hate, but a love story between the land and the city, where the two bodies loose from time to time their limits in order to find them again through each other. A relationship where each actor needs the other one in order to exist. It is a powerful, almost destructive story. But which passionate love comes without pain?
There is neither a subject, nor an object. Everything is the same. Everything is matter. Matter is everything. Through retrieving information from the materiality itself not only the levels of stratification are visible, but also new coherencies are uprising.
Land starts taking over emptiness, reforming the city over time. Fields and flows are now transforming to figures and schemes. The realization of time and space is occurring in every direction, establishing new proximities. Nature comes back to reclaim the instincts and re-appropriate the way it has been inhabited. The concept of zoning applies nowhere; not even in the division of infrastructure and buildings. Almost nothing disappears. Everything coexists, having non-recognizable seams.
New forms of sociability are formed. Multiple ‘ground levels’ produce operative landscapes and negotiable territories, where cultural production exceeds the systemized existing politics, while becoming the mutation agent of present and past. Creation cannot be “ex nihilo”. It steps on the existent to recreate the new, without -though- the memory of the past to obstruct the evolution of the unexpected. Public space becomes nature and nature becomes a metaphor of the past and the present, the material and the immaterial, the foreseen and the unexpected, the practicalities and the poetics, the need and the desire, the necessity and the fantasy.
enfant, veux-tu que je te dise la vérité ?
C’est qu’on m’a donné un nom qui ne me convient pas :
on m’appelle nature, et je suis tout art.