Re-Integrate Votanikos


Semester Project Landscape Architecture, Winter Semester 2016/17


In 1840, the poet Hans Christian Andersen wrote on his trip to Greece: "We rode at a gallop, it was terribly dusty, but it was classical dust. Soon we reached the olive grove, Minerva's sacred grove! A wooden booth was erected on each side of the path. Lemons and oranges lay spread out here, garnished with a row of bottles containing wine and liquor."(Hans Christian Andersen 1842 / 2011)
In 1996, the Votanikos area, located in the Kifissos Valley and marking the western border of the city of Athens, looks completely changed: "The olive grove of Athens, once an area to the west of the city with more than 300,000 trees, has now disappeared and fallen into oblivion. About 140 old giant trees, some certainly close to a thousand years old, still testify to the past beauty of this grove. Today there is small business and industry where olives were once harvested." (Regine Keller 1996) Votanikos developed - parallel to the explosive urban growth of the Athens region - into an area of informal trade and small industry. The famous olive grove with Plato's Academy and the Botanical Gardens disappeared - it was concreted over like Kifissos.
But how has the urban landscape developed here in the last 20 years? Today, the Votanikos urban landscape, which is almost completely overbuilt and fragmented by large-scale infrastructures and urban highways, contains both used and vacant commercial buildings, large brownfield sites such as that of the abandoned Votanikos Arena project of Panathinaikos FC, which cost millions, and isolated informal settlements. There are still some ruins and relics, such as the chapels and churches along the Holy Road Agias Annis. These are relics from before 1930 - when the area was still the rural river area "at the gates of the city". In addition, in 2016, in the industrial quarter, people have again received at least temporary housing here - in the middle of the industrial area: a container camp was built on an industrial wasteland in Elaionas, the largest refugee camp in Athens.


The chairs LAREG and LAO approach the greater Athens area, the Kifissos Valley and its urban landscape in a joint project platform. In an excursion, the project group approaches both the history-enshrouded pólis Athens, its public spaces and classical landscapes as well as the rapid urbanization tendencies, the "landscape-destructive" land-grabbing and the periphery formations, which already begin at the beginning of the 20th century.
At the chair of LAO, in the master's project 1/2, the basics for the study area of Votanikos and Elaionas and its role in Athens are researched, analyzed and documented on the level of urban planning, landscape architecture as well as on the socio-political level. Furthermore, it is necessary to investigate which related disciplines (sociology, politics, culture, engineering, ...), which actors and processes could and should be involved in an urban landscape transformation of Votanikos.
In an integrated landscape architectural design using the example of the area around the wasteland of the formerly planned Panathinaikos stadium Votanikos, strategies and measures are to be found that can lead to a better urban, socio-economic and ecological integration of this neglected district into the urban center of Athens-Piraeus. Central questions in this regard are how this socio-spatial integration can be designed on different levels (urban planning/landscape, socio-economic, ethnic, local political, ...) and what role public space can play in a neighborhood characterized by manufacturing and service industries. How much housing and recreational uses can and must be located here? What role will the rivers and historic cultural landscape play in the future? Does the commercially dominated quarter offer a potential space for the integration of migrants and other disadvantaged population groups?


Prof. Regine Keller, M.Sc. Tasos Roidis, M.Sc. Johann-Christian Hannemann

Student Projects