The Agora - Cultural Seeds for Resilient Cities
This design research thesis is exploring the historical, cultural and social bonds through food, architecture and technology. Searching for an answer to the question of how we can form culturally resilient strategies to re-invent the marketplaces of the 21-st century in the context of Athens, Greece. The research started by looking at the urban setting, cultural and social factors, and the practices and routines to understand the role of the Agora in the ancient Greek polis. From that point on, the research focused on the Laiki Agora or the people's market as a continuation of the tradition of the ancient Agora but in the setting of today's demographics, financial and social factors that have shaped these temporal marketplaces. The project is positioned in the neighbourhood of Exarchia where the history of protest and counter-culture is a reflection of the political and financial crises in recent decades in Greece. In addition, the hypothesis of this research is focused on decentralized ledger technology using blockchain to try and re-organize our food supply chain by embracing local produce and distribution of goods. What role are the temporal people's markets play in the public sphere and how can they be used to support the local economy? How can we build culturally resilient communities in the face of changing weather patterns and declining natural resources?
Proposed View of the Laiki Agora, Kallidromiou Street, Exarchia, Athens
"These markets are born when the society is dreaming. They are reminiscent of a living organism that reflects the pace and vide of a city and its inhabitants. The conversations on the street, the unexpected encounters, the gossip, the coffee shops buzzing with people done with their weekly groceries. It is like a theatrical play, a well-directed spectacle where each person has his role to play and everything just falls into place." - Karolos Michalidis
Proposed hand-drawn cohabitation strategy, Exarchia, Athens
The neighbourhood of Exarchia is very densely populated and often characterized by being home to artists and intellectuals because of it's close proximity to the National Polytechnical University. Due to the financial crises in recent decades, the neighbourhood has suffered destructions from protests and riots. The physical manifestation of the financial crises is evident through the abandoned buildings and closed shops in the area. The analysis of the neighbourhood has drawn attention to the lack of green spaces and public areas. The co-habitation strategy is trying to re-purpose the unused, abandoned and closed areas in the hope of building more sustainable and resilient community.