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Danai Athanasia Softa

August 2012, Edinburgh

“UNATTENDED SPACES”: environmental and social Msc Advanced Sustainable Design


supervisor lecturer Lisa Moffitt

Msc thesis / individual project

Abstract The aim of the dissertation was to explore various theories linked to “unattended spaces”, as seen through the eyes of Roger Trancik, Anastasia Loukaitou–Sideris, Ignasi de Sola-Morales, Gilles Clément, Alan Berger, John Beardslay and others; in the process of changing attitudes from the first theory of “lost spaces” identifying potentials to such territories, to the addition of socio-cultural parameters in “spaces in-between”, or “drosscape”. But also the realization of environmental potentials in theories like “(urban) semi-natural woodlands”, “third landscape”, to the most resent “forsaken spaces”. The intriguing theory of “terrain vague” or the process-describing “entropic landscapes” are also a step further in perception of “unattended spaces” and possible scenarios. Under the term of “unattended spaces”, pieces of land in a process of decay, in sociocultural perspective, characterized by a ‘wild’ natural turn in their development are defined. They address timescale and state of landscapes where the relationship between man and nature is undefined. While exploring the different approaches, a number of issues emerge. At first they can be categorised having two broad directions, one towards having strong environmental considerations and the other human-oriented, addressing problems as socio-cultural in base. Their basic separation has to do with who is anticipated to perform the change in the landscape, nature or man. This, however, does not mean that human and nature cannot be merged together in various combinations, with different degrees of interactions.

“Incidental nature” ‘intruding’ abandoned building. The force of nature in the changing process from constructed environment to untamed nature. Leith, Edinburgh, 2012

The dissertation is oriented towards approaches which are ‘wild’ and allow nature to play a decisive role in the forming of the landscape. Therefore, an introduction towards wilderness and its role in the city is needed, like the fact that it adds individuality in the urban environment that is developed. Adding some thoughts about whether nature is natural anymore. Furthermore, issues having as starting points the two main approaches are identified. In the environmental spectrum, questions of stakeholder needs, the role of entropic natural processes, the temporary character of a landscape and its reversibility to a previous stage are

Emerging “third landscape” in railroad embankment. Leith, Edinburgh, 2012.

explored, not only in respect of approaches favouring nature, but also as issues towards human oriented ones. In the socio-cultural spectrum in consequence, “unattended spaces” are examined through the prism of perception, how society looks at them, whether they have something to offer to the city and its residents and how perception is affected by that. The matter of perception and contribution to the city is highly linked with the emerging aesthetic of “unattended” landscapes and also the degree of architectural intervention. The later is also explored through four precedents: Red Ribbon Park, Park Henri Matisse, Landscape Park Duisdurg North, and New York High Line, indicating different approaches and degrees of intervention. “Marginal nature” taking over the former military camp of Paulos Melas, transforming it from built environment to emerging eco-system. Thessaloniki, Greece , 2010.

source of photographs: Danai Athanasia Softa

On the social perspective of “unattended spaces”, demographics related to age, affect stakeholders perception; especially in younger ages, children can express themselves freely in “unattended spaces”, also by performing more ‘marginal’ activities like dirty biking. The photo was taken during the festival “thank you for disturbing”, aiming to the creative reuse of abandoned and misused urban spaces, in former military camp of Paulos Melas,Thessaloniki, Greece, 2010. 3

May 2012, Edinburgh

LEITH GREEN-WALK: sustainable transformations supervisor professor John Brennan

Msc Advanced Sustainable Design collaborative project with: Andrea Botti Colin Garratt Hugo Sotelo The master plan concerns an area of Leith that represents a significant cultural and physical connection within Edinburgh. The area is located between Duke Street in the North and the rail line adjacent to Albert Street in the South. The east and west boundaries are Easter Road and Leith Walk respectively. The master plan aims to satisfy and respect the unique genius loci while actively engaging in the evolving socibarriers

overcoming existing barriers


ety of the greater United Kingdom. In place of military and industrial port activity an entrepreneurial an artistic spirit has arisen. An independent and stalwart working class society exists in Leith and the areas longstanding identifier of ‘Persevere’ still resonates. Enpowering local citizents within this environment is attainable through a quality built design programme. Three requirements have been identified in establishing a quality built polarities

transforming ‘lost spaces’ into optimal

design. 1. Increased concern for public space. 2. Emphasizing uses for space that represent both a rooted/traditional and impermanent/contemporary population. 3. Establishing involvement within the community while supporting the cultural and commercial asset of Leith Walk. The master plan consists of a pedestrian and cyclopath route, connecting north and south parts of Leith, restorring access by overcoming barriers and workse supplementary to the busy and multicultural Leith Walk, therefore the proposed path is called “Leith Green Walk”, introducing a sustainable, ‘green’ alternative route. Three key areas were chosen to address further needs, more specific problems, and to be distributed among the team members as individual projects.

re-addressing ill-designed and fragmental social housing

Section 4. From ‘lost space’ to urban potential and restored access.

Located at the North end of the master plan site, the redesign of this housing cluster removes a key blockage to the north while allowing access to both New Kirkgate and Leith Links park. An important and longstanding demographic for Leith is lower income housing, where fuel poverty is a real concern. A key part of this master plan is to ensure that a sustainable built environment is equitable and accessible for all residents of the transect. The resident demographic are often people in a transition period and on a fixed income. Creating a safe, delightful and sustainable environment is critical in ensuring the local population has equal access to opportunity.

Leith Works proposal opens up an existing urban blockage and creates a valuable public space. The site at 165 Leith Walk is currently an underused Council work yard. The site represents a physical barrier within this transect. The proposed design allows for pedestrian corridors along both North-South and East-Wesr orientation. Leith Works represents a ‘lost space’ as an area of significant opportunity. This substantial site is divided in two co-existing proposals: Leith Works Social and Commercial. The ‘social’ streetfront part will showcase Leith’s artistic roots, will house a gallery, a market, offices, workshops and an ample outdoor space. In the easterly rear of the building the Commercial programme incorporates customised and moveable containers into the existing structure. Teaching and training programs will evolve into small businesses spaces and thus create a virtuous educational-commercial cycle. Through small business and artistic studios locals will provide products and services to local surrounding communities.

Located at the Southern edge of the master plan area a pedestrian bridge over the existing train line is proposed, providing an alternative route to the busy and dangerous Leith Walk, for cyclists and pedestrians. A significant shortfall within the area is access to health and fitness spaces. As a critical point along the pedestrian route the building program represents a physical and physiological connection to the activity level of its citizens. Allowing convenient access and congregation for commutes to engage in healthy lifestyles the fitness centre serves as a symbol and opportunity for the principles of a healthy and productive community.

Section3. Leith Green Walk on a narrow road

Section 1. Leith Green Walk on a wide road


May 2012, Edinburgh

SOCIAL HOUSING RETROFIT sustainable transformations Msc Advanced Sustainable Design individual project based on previous collaborative project

supervisor professor John Brennan The project is developed in a residential block towards the foot of the Walk, between Leith Walk and Easter Road, on the west and east side respectively. The boundaries on the north side of the site is Duke’s Street tesco car park and on the south Manderston and Gordon Street. The spaces formed in between the blocks of flats are protected areas on one hand, which are turned into cultivation land for the residents and more open ones on the other, which are treated as

public spaces. In the west side of the site where “Leith GreenWalk” transects, restoring the connectivity between Manderston Street, tesco car park and ultimately Leith Links, a playground is designed for the young population of the area, which needs to be within their parents reach and under their supervision. In the east side, a water tank, in the form of a pond is placed where the collected water from the roof tops is gathered to be used for water needs of cultivations and in the emergency of fire.

Landscape diagram

General plan of the residential complex and “Leith Green Walk” transecting it, while restoring connection with Leith Links park and overcoming the barrier between the settlement and the car park.

Section through-out the site

typical unit ground floor plan

typical unit floor plan

Two types of units are available, one with atrium and one with ventilation tower.

The existing apartment blocks, which are retrofited, are organised in two types of orientation, north - east and north - west, keeping the same typology. In the current situation the flats are organised on either sides of an open staircase - drying space and vary in size. In the proposal a standar unit is developed, with a central atrium and one apartment on each side. The biggest percentage of the area’s population is defined as young people, young families, in the begining of their lives, therefore the standardised developed unit consists of small two bedroom apartments. The atrium provides sun spaces to each apartment in the north-east or north-west side, according to orientation. The standard units are encountered in the project grouped in two or three together. The actual units vary in size and the entrance is located either under the sunspaces or in the opposite side of the building, giving ground to flexibility. Consequently combinations of differently sized apartments and internal relocation of vertical communication axis occur, but the development of a standard unit is crucial in terms of organization. Moreover, since the existing blocks are some of the few flat-roof dwellings in Edinburgh, a green roof is featured on top, covered by a greenhouse connecting the grouped units, The roofs are transformed into cultivation areas for the residents where plants which require only a smal amount of soil are allowed, such plants can be basil, mint, soft fruits like strawberries and some vegetables.


Sustainable strategy small openings on north facade facilitate natural ventilation, avoiding thermal losses

low winter sun enters the atrium through sun spaces and building benefits from passive solar gains

the thermal mass of atrium walls act like storage for passive heating gains, transmitting heat towards apartments while stabilising the atrium’s temperature

balconies shade each other in the summer due to high sun latitude openable glazed surfaces of sunspace, allow natural ventilation and air flow within the atrium

over night, natural ventilation cools the building, entering air circulates and absorbes heat stored in the building’s thermal mass

Summer day

Winter day all openings are closed over night, in an attempt to minimise thermal loses

Summer night

Winter night

the absorbed heat is released over night, maintaining temperature in acceptable levels, preventing the apartments from thermal loses

Extensive simulations of the building was done, in order to monitor its behaviour, produsing series of graphics. In the few selected ones here, the conditions inside the atrium-greenhouse are explored, as the most controversial room-element of the unit. In the first diagram air temperature (in green) is measured, affected by external temperature (dark blue) and wet/dry-bulb temperatures (lighter blues). Room temperature never excides 26 degrees over summer, whereas it stays at a minimum comfort zone over winter, which is the basic needed for the use of this room. In the second diagram energy needs are calculated: lighting energy (in blue) is monitored and the scenario of heating the room (in red) is explored. Since the room in question is serving circulation needs, heating is not nesessary, therefore its energy load could be eliminated. In the third diagram CO2 emitions are measured, based on energy consumption of the second diagram. Total emitions are highlighted in red. Finaly the fourth diagram represents the percentage of people’s dissatisfaction (ppd). It is maintained below acceptable rates of an average 14-15%, with exception to few hot summer days where the pick reached 25%, which is within acceptable rates of ppd as well.

Edinburgh, January 2012

ADAM FERGUISON BUILDING: critical building supervisor professor John Brennan

Msc Advanced Sustainable Design individual project Adam Ferguison is one of the buildings surrounding George square, in central Edinburgh. It hosts the University of Edinburgh Business school, and is located among other university buildings, in close proximity to the Main Library. The goal of the project was to upgrade its energy performance, by keeping it’s main core, structure and uses, while retrofitting it and providing a sustainable strategy.

Appleton Tower

George square

Adam Ferguison George Square Theatre Main Library University of Edinburgh Micro-climate study

Yearly prevailing winds. The main wind direction is south - west.

sun path

Weather analysis

December 21st sun-path

June 21st sun-path

Supplementary to the general weather data for Edinburgh, there is the micro-climate formed around Adam Ferguison building, affected by the morphology of surrounding buildings and built environment in general. Weaker street winds appear in the area, emerging through gaps and openings in the built environment. A strong wind tunnel is also created between the Appleton tower and Adam Ferguison building, due to the former’s height. Casted shadows and the patterns they follow affect the temperature around Adam Ferguison building, so does the park in George square (on the north side of the building). The temperature on north, east and west sides of the building is lower, due to the fact that they are almost always 9 under shadow.

Building strategy The main idea for the transformation of the Ferguison building, was to add a greenhouse on the south facade, create optimal space, a garden to be used as break space, and welcoming area for the south entrance. The ultimate goal however was natural ventilation and passive heat gains, therefore three ventilation towers were implemented to help air circulation inside the building, whilst providing natural light to the interior. The circulation of air is achieved by making use of the “Bernoulli” and “stack effect”. Air can circulate from the greenhouse to the interior and ventilation towers, by openings on top of windows on the inner south facade and further oppenings on the inner office walls. The four storey high greenhouse gave the opportunity to create optimal balcony spaces on all floors: forming external corridors, on the inner south facade, overlooking the greenhouse yard, and the further design of gathering spaces along them. Balconies however not only serve as social points, they also protect ground, first and second floors from direct sunlight over summer and glare effect, by casting their shadows on them. In winter however, louver and balconie angle allow sun’s low latitude to reach the interior of the building. Balconies are wooden, taking advantage of the protected environment inside the greenhouse. Apart from its light construction, it’s thermal mass is usefull for heat storing, and preventing from the glare effect. The louvers for the upper floor are also wooden in order to prevent from the glare effect.

Conserning the interior facade, brick was chosen for the benefits of it’s thermal mass, whereas glass was kept under moderation. Moreover, the greenhouse serves a double role, its height, shape and position turn it into an exhaustion ventilation tower.

An extra benefit is the purifying of air entering the building through the greenhouse, due to vegetations. Finally the north facade was adressed with smaller openings, in order to reduce heat losses.

South view of the greenhouse

North view, from George square

Section-view inside the greenhouse

Summer day: Greenhouse openings on south facade and sides are completely open. Entering air is extracted through top openings, acting as ventilation tower. The sheltered top helps in creating the “Bernoulli effect”, due to pressure differences from bottom level to top of the greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse, air is heated further by the sun, rising on its top, supplementary creating “stack effect”. Ventilation towers are also open on top creating the “Bernoulli” and “stack effect”, achieving natural ventilation. Air enters the building’s core through openings on both north and inner south facade, while inside the building air circulates through interior wall openings. Protection from direct sunlight, glare effect and excessive heat gains is achieved by wooden louvers on top floor’s inner south facade and overhanging balconies on lower floors.

Summer night: The buidling remains open. The night breeze is left to circulating in the buildnig cooling it down. “Stack effect” can not be created now, due to lack of sun, therefore the provoked heat differences, but the “Bernully effect” and the natural tendency of warm air to rise, keep air circulating. The thermal mass of the walls releases the absorbed heat of the day, with the help of circulating air. On the same time, air gets warmer due to the absorbed heat and rises in the ventilation towers.

Winter day: Minimum number of opened panels on greenhouse facade and ventilation tower, to ensure air circulation, natural ventilation and creation of stack effect. The sun is heating the air inside the greenhouse, which enters the main building through limited openings heating it and ventilating it naturally. The low winter sun can ‘reach’ the inner south brick facade, heating it, therefore ‘activating’ its thermal mass. Due to low sun altitude, rays surpass louvers and balconies, heating the building’s interior passively. In the north facade, ventilation panels are opened limitedly for the purpose of natural ventilation, and are subject to user control, as there are no thermal gains and temperature under shadow is lower.

Winter night: The building remains closed, in order to preserve heat overnight, minimizing all potential loses. The stored heat on the inside facade is released, helping the building maintain its threshold temperature.


Thessaloniki, February 2011


Master in Architecture Engineering diploma design thesis

1. 1.







Subject to this project is the partial reuse of the abandoned military camp of Paulos Melas, in Stavroupoli, Thessaloniki. The area consists of neglected open spaces and a great variety of unused buildings, some of them listed as architectural heritage, which get vandalized and get to host illegal activities. The aim was to reuse the site and buildings, doing the necessary alterations and additions for the place to be functional, sustainable and suitable for the new uses to be hosted. This part of the site was chosen due to its position. It is the south – east end of the camp, with Lagada and Akriton Street shaping it. In the meantime the buildings in this area form a certain unity. The entrance was kept in the present place, through Lagada Street. When one enters the site by car, a parking lot is available on the south side of the building complex, and a designed promenade for pedestrians

and cyclists which surround the entire site. Opposite the parking lot, there is the entrance to the central square, where the distribution of movements is done. The square is designed in two distinct sections. In the west one, there is a park with ponds, playground, walking and children cycling paths. In the new building placed beyond the park, there is a kindergarten and a gym, with pool and spa facilities, basketball, volleyball, football (5x5) and tennis courts. In the east side, the main square with its coffee shop is located. The existing building, in this side of the plaza, form a unity with the two parallel existing buildings of similar dimensions, which are connected to each other. The first dwelling is the ‘administration’, where the main reception, the accounting office and various other offices are hosted. The second

building is the ‘teaching area’, where dancing lessons take place. In the part linking these two buildings the drawing and sculpturing classes are placed, while in the yard that is formed there is an outdoor cinema. The third building is dedicated to theatre and cinema, there is an auditorium and theatre classes. Between buildings two and three, there is a restaurant, with view to the enclosed yard, an outdoor theatre. On the built part connecting the two buildings, storage rooms and a theatrical scenery workshop are located. North to the square, in one of the biggest buildings of the entire site, galleries are places, for periodic exhibitions on the ground floor and for permanent ones on the upper floor, there are also screening rooms. In front of the ‘exhibition building’ a complex of shelters and ‘nests’ is formed to host outdoor exhibitions.

South elevation of the complex

storage / backdrop workshop

art classes coffee shop playground

open theatre

children cyclopath gym open cinema kinder garden

unifing sheltered spaces entrance

restaurant administration


theatre / cinema

pedestrian path

cyclopath Central plan of the complex. From left to right there is the new building of gym and kinder garden, the children-oriented part of the plaza, with the playground, children cyclo-path and walking path. The promenade which devides the plaza, begins from the entrance of the complex and leads to the excibition building (further of this plan). In the right part of the plaza there is the coffee shop on the north side and the ‘administration’ on the east side. The open cinema and spaces for art classes link ‘administration’ to the next parallel one, which is the ‘teaching building’ where dance classes are held. A restaurant and open theatre are placed in the yard formed between ‘teaching building’ and the ‘theatre-cinema building’, plus storing rooms and a workshop for theatre backdrops..

West elevation towards new building of gym and kinder garden

Section through plaza, view towards administration

Section of open cinema, view towards ‘teaching building’

Section of theatre / cinema building

Administration and teaching buildings

Enclosed yard view

Excibition halls, south elevation

Entrance to excibition halls

Excibition hall plan, ground floor

Outdoor sheltered excibition spaces 13

Thessaloniki, February 2010


supervisor professor Kostas Oikonomou

individual project The project is a small family hotel, within a traditional, listed village. One of the project’s challenges was to meet certain form regulations, while fiting in all contemporary comforts, in a traditional-like complex. The building brief required 10 to 12 rooms, reception, lounge, playroom, tv room, dining area with the necessary kitchen and storage, a tavern and cafeteria that could operate separately from the hotel plus the owner’s house.

Aerial view of hotel complex

Standard room

Lounge area, viewfrom billiards room

Billiard room

Section to reception, lounge, billiard room, tv room, playroom and rooms

South – west view of the main hotel building

South elevation, entrance to reception and lobby

Aerial view of the enclosed hotel yard

View of the tavern and cafeteria, from the central square

Tavern and cafeteria view from the square, entrance to the enclosed hotel yard



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