Emilio Sullivan

(En) Powering the Polykatoikia | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019

Awarded Distinction for Design and Distinction for Thesis

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As Greece and Athens seek to pull themselves from one crisis of a financial nature, they have begun to propel themselves into another far more permanant problem. The problem of waste.
With greater issues at the forefront, the management and attitudes to waste have been put on a seemingly indefinite back-burner. The landfill serving Athens has reached capacity, with fissures appearing causing complete shutdown. Rubbish piled up on the streets for weeks, plunging Athens into squalor. The desire for a new location for waste management has only thrown up further civil unrest. 
With the municipality having their backs against the wall the solution seems to require a more drastic measure.
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My project seeks to fulfil the requirement of the city of Athens to deal with the problems of waste at source, the residents of the city have seen the consequences of not challenging the protocols of waste management and thus the city has sought to bring the solution to them. The ambition therefore is to utilise vacant or near-vacant properties throughout the dense urban landscape and convert the polykatoikias (concrete frame housing blocks) of Athens into urban hubs of micro-industry. By positioning the buildings on corners the buildings look to stand as the physical manifestation of the local government investing in the lives of residents. In a culture that thrives on concepts of family and industriousness, the buildings look to encourage resident to re-engage in civil discourse.
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Situated in Sepolia and Soukze Hill to the North-West of the city the scheme would take root. The project seeks to look at means of “bottom -up engagement“ of a populace often shy of cooperation, using financial and amenity based incentives to create a dialogue of trade and exchange between citizen and state. 
Waste would take on a new value, a currency in energy production and community spaces, in a city that has consistently seen issues of fuel poverty. Through bio-digestion and incineration, Athens will seek to dent the damning statistics that Greece has gained; as one of the worst recyclers globally. The 80% landfill rate has to be tackled, the E.U is breathing down the necks of Greek politicians to do so. This project seeks to provide a test-bed, a means of projective aspiration as to what dealing with your own detritus and driving to disintegrate social hierarchies of residential micro-spheres. Production equals profit and a new vernacular of social urban industry will seek to fill the holes that have occurred in the wake of financial turmoil.     
The prospect of what will occur without intervention is ultimately fatal for Athens. The tumultuous relationship between the policy makers and the civilians of Athens requires a truly celebratory approach to civic architecture. This can be found in the civic infrastructure of the polykatoikia powerplants of my proposal. An architecture that functionally looks to serve the issues of the people in the birthplace of democracy
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