Julia Baeck

Architecture MArch (Hons)

Assembling Athens - Revitalising abandoned buildings for an ageing population


julia baeck

For the rest of this century, the largest age group in Greece will be considered as elderly. The design choices today need to consider the population of tomorrow. An ageing population requires versatile aids and assistance, without assumption or discrimination. 

Universal design is the design of products, buildings and environments to make them accessible to all regardless of age, disability, sickness or other factors. Whether or not it is fully achievable, it is worth aiming at.   

Athens is a dense city but at a closer look, the cityscape is fragmented with an alarming amount of buildings that are left unfinished, abandoned or decayed to ruins. Both the ageing population and the ageing abandoned building stocks are overlooked by many, “too old to work” and not recognised for their full potential. 

The proposal revitalises the abandoned lots in Athens by lowering the threshold for a diverse community to transform the vacant properties bottom up. Universal design, blockchain and a foldable tectonic language are used to change the construction scene. Not excluding the elderly in the process will have physical and mental benefits. 

The chosen site will house an Open Care Centre for the Elderly, known as KAPI in Greece. Greece carries the tradition of children taking care of their parents and grandparents. Introducing more preventive care is essential, especially now as the younger generations are getting outnumbered. For a healthy population, and building stock, long term.

Graphic perspective section with people of all ages inside

Perspective section showing a diverse community mounting the tectonic structure inside an abandoned building in Athens.

The graphic perspective of the room. Terracotta and cool green half-moon shapes painted on beige walls.

Colour is used as an affordable, universal tool to bring the abandoned back to life. The render show wall colours especially suited for a staff room.

Mostly beige, graphic floor plan showing seating, free space and a café bar

Draft floor plan of how the secondary tectonic structure can create an open, public ground floor inside a vacant building.

Left, a beige and soft blue section of the building's three main floors. The mobile facades are closed on the ground floor but pulled apart on the upper floors. Right, photograph of physical model with images of people inside the double facade.

A mobile double-skin facade that provides thermal comfort when closed and natural ventilation when opened. The facade panels replace traditional doors, windows and exterior walls.

Photograph of physical model, white building base and a strcuture built of balsawood. Photoshopped images of a man and a woman sitting ona bench inside the model

Temporary indoor-outdoor spaces are created when facades are pulled apart

Photograph of a model with white walls and floors, a timber structure and see-through facade. People of different ages are edited in the photograph.

Photograph of section model of the revitalised abandoned building [model built in 1:20]

Digital illustration of a space with a timber structure inside.  Gray and yellow floor, a yellow shape on a beige wall and blue ceiling. There are two people in the space.

Ground floor of the existing building with a foldable, secondary structure.