The project aims to liberate and regenerate public spaces for the local people and blur boundaries between public and private spaces to make community activities more affordable.
In the era of postwar in Athens, 90% of the apartments were built in the system of Antiparochi (1959 law), in which a landowner could turn over the plot to a constructor in order to build a multi-storey apartment block (polykatoikia). As a result, a lot of public spaces were occupied and streets were narrowed to maximise the internal areas. This resulted in many domestic activities and private life being extended over the public street.
Recently there has been a rise in bottom-up initiatives that foster a new typology of spaces with creativity, emancipation and resistance in opposition to the past technocratic approaches. A wide array of spaces have been reclaimed by local residences who want to make a change. In 2009, the movement ‘Us Here and Now and for All of Us’ united local citizens through the transformation of a parking lot in the Exarchia neighbourhood in central Athens into a community-managed urban garden. This garden named the Navarinou Park, provided space for people to come together and hold leisure activities, grow food, paint and cook.
The proposal extends the ideas and ambitions brought forward by this movement, increasing their scale and variety, proposing an autonomous vertical production landscape for the community. This “vertical park” will allow visitors to mingle, observe the growth of vegetables from seed to end-product and enjoy them on dining tables at the cafe.
The Greek Salad became the theme of the proposal, one of the local favourite dishes in Greece, entails the planting of tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers and olives. The design features adaptable planting design that could accommodate the changing environment for the plants throughout a year. The ratios of plant distribution, demand, product yield and area requirement are calculated and applied onto the model with consideration of sunlight hours required for each of the plants. Plants that require more sunlight hours are placed at a higher level and vice versa. A cafe is added on the top level so that the residents can enjoy the output of the vertical garden and sit within them.