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THE DEVELOPMENT OF HELLENIKON AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR REVITALISING CENTRAL CITY AREAS Case study: the creation of a park in Kato Patissia, central Athens Aristidis Romanos Architect, Planner

Synoptic presentation of the book “Hellinikon and the Revitalisation of the Athens Centre” (greek) publ. POTAMOS, 2011

Distinguishing three prime motives to the proposals for the development of Hellenikon

The necessity approach: to reduce the public debt


green approach:

to create a ‘metropolitan’ park

The visionary approach: to use it as an instrument for revitalising the city

The necessity approach; the argument: «The Government should, in the next two years, before Greece goes out to borrow from the international money market, define the public property for sale, after specifying its possible land use […] The resulting reduction of the public debt by, at least, 30 bil. Euros, that is less than 15% of the GNP, shall bring it (the public debt) near the average of the Eurozone in 2013, pulling the country for good out of the category of countries facing bankruptcy»

The green approach Metropolitan Park – arguments against: Broader area already provided with ample open space/ edge city location/ high maintenance cost/ irrational use of valuable public asset

the Visionary approach

Revitalising the underprivileged central city areas

The crisis in Central Athens is congenital with its post-war reconstruction and expansion. It now appears gigantic, as problems were allowed to accumulate, hidden behind superficial enhancement and beautification programs and measures. The fundamental problem:

a large central area of 10.000 Ha, built with plot ratios of >2,5 where ~2.400.000 people live in conditions of too high densities of people, buildings and cars radical and big scale intervention –affecting private land- is required to create public open space

Issues to resolve: 1. Does the Centre need revitalisation? 2. What are the economic and social costs and benefits of the enormous redevelopment works? 3. How many households (owners and tenants) shall the creation of parks displace?

4. What type of organisation shall be required to manage the new parks programme? 5. What are the criteria and the method for defining the areas to be revitalised? (or, How are the parks to be justly and efficiently located?)

Ways to face the housing displacement problem

Concerning the owners –occupiers or not: fixing the expropriation prices at a level enabling the acquisition of alternative housing, of similar or better standard Concerning the displaced low-income tenants: temporary rent subsidy or re-housing in low rent local authority dwellings

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Construction of low rent municipal housing stock within the expropriated areas ~150 flats of 50 to 74 m2 in six 8-storey buildings (same height as surrounding blocks

Areas with access to Green Spaces in the Athens Basin 2011

A case study: creation of a park in Kato Patissia, a declining central area

Scope: to examine the pros and cons of the Visionary proposal and focus on some particular issues raised

the case study area

Profile of the study area/1 Total area: 477.230 m2 (100%) Communal areas (mainly street surface): 160.000 m2 (33,5%), Building plots area: 317.230 m2 (66,5%) Number of city blocks: 79 (average size 4.015,56 m2) Number of buildings: 982 (average size 293 m2) Average number of buildings per block 12,43

Statutory plot ratio: 3,6 Ave. actual plot ratio 1981: 2,5 Ave. actual plot ratio 2001: 2,8

Profile of the study area/2 2001

Number of households: 8.490 Ave. size of households: 2,34

Population of the area: 20.785 Net residential density: 655,2 persons/Ηa

Alternative I: 6,0 Ha


Alternative V: 2,3 Ha


Alternative II: 5,2 Ha

Alternative IV: 3,6 Ha

Alternative III: 4,8 Ha

according to the 2001 census data

In the particular case-study area:

for every net area of 0,1 ha of expropriated city block

a number of average 27 households shall be displaced (14 renters, 13 owner-occupiers)

Attempt to maximise the deposition of demolition debris within the expropriated area by the creation of landscaped hilly relief 130 114




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38 60



76 44



Total debris volume: 138106 m3 Deposition within the area: 81918 m3 (59%) Deposition outside the area: 56188 m3 (41%)

How many parks can be created in central Athens Scenario I: Income from the Hellenikon development 3,52 b Euros buys (3,52 b. Euros รท6.000 Euros /m2) ~587.000 m2 of net plot area in Kato Patissia. Equivalent to 70,7 Ha of park area. Scenario II: Income from the Hellenikon development 1,58 b Euros buys (1,58 b. Euros รท6.000 Euros /m2) ~264.000 m2 of net plot area in Kato Patissia. Equivalent to 31,9 Ha of park area. For devalued areas similar to Kato Patissia:

Scenario I could mean 30 neighborhood parks of 2,3 Ha each.

Scenario II could mean 14 neighborhood parks of 2,3 Ha each.

total green area to be gained 70


The moral of the story /1

The development of strategic public urban land should not be decided under the pressure of the effort to reduce the country’s public debt; it should instead be examined from the following viewpoint.

Hellenikon is a land of unique characteristics: large size, single property owner (the State), proximity to the waterfront and to the mountain, improved accessibility through public transport, and significant history. This uniqueness renders its development a matter of strategic importance for the whole Metropolitan area.

The moral of the story /2 Therefore its development has to incorporate the following interconnected goals: (a)attract high added value activities of national caliber and international appeal, providing new jobs and long term gains to the real economy, (b)embody a vision acceptable and inspiring to Athenian citizen, (c) that this vision ensures its development a social and political legitimacy, (d)that it offers an opportunity to channel a segment of the development’s revenue towards the enhancement of underprivileged central city areas, achieving a more fair distribution of infrastructure goods -such as common green space where it is mostly needed.