High City, New Acropolis | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019
Literal transparency and adjacency in the architecture of government building often equated with figurative transparency, openness, accessibility and greater democracy. This is evident in buildings, such as The Casa del Fascio (Como, Italy) and The Reichstag. The project took inspiration from the public and political building in ancient Athens, such as Acropolis and Pnyx. Acropolis, literally means ‘high city’ in Greeks, locates on the sacred rock which separated the Acropolis from the city. The quality allows acropolis to contain visual dialogue with all locations in Athens and has become a beacon of celebration. The Pnyx was the official meeting place of the Athenian democratic assembly. Its location is chosen to be outside of the city, and have a direct vision of the Agora, was the commercial and social centre of the city. Both of these public buildings, with many other landmarks in Athens, located on one of the hills in Athens and contains visual dialogue with the city. Through their response to the topography of the urban landscape, their existence becomes alive speculation of the relationship between the city and its citizen. They create a unique democracy system through the landscape. The project aims to design a debate and referendum centre located on one of the hills in Athens for public participation in political discussion. The project discusses how the geometry negotiates the intimate and the whole city, which becomes a metaphor for politics, and how a democratic system can be created through a complex landscape that is generated from this digital design process.
The project started with the exploration of visual effect and the concept of façade of truth. The project looked at how the debate, especially the Mytilenian debate occurred in Athens in 427 bc was used a way to reach a rational decision and restore democracy.
The project linked with Aristotle’s research of the discourse. Aristotle believes the art of discourse of separated into three branches, logic, rhetoric and dialectic. Through a partnership of rhetoric and dialectic discourse, we can create a system of persuasion based on knowledge instead of upon manipulation and omission.
Using the existing façade of ancient Athenian assembly chamber as the source to construct the façade of truth, through many iterations, the project translates the concept of rhetoric discourse into architectural element of self-expression and translates the concept dialectic discourse into architectural element of negotiation. Through a partnership of self-expression and negotiation elements, the building is then able to promote the idea of ‘don’t know’ and ‘change of mind’.
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Distributed on the site, the project defined and constructed several moments of truth distributed on the site. The design strategy of the building is to use its building form as a tool to mask out and align with the part of the city of Athens from the identified viewpoints. Through moment within the building and interaction with the moment of truth, the building is able to construct a variety of irreconcilable truths subjective to their own protagonists and promote the idea of ‘don’t know’ and ‘change of mind’.
The project illustrates the view located in the consensus room situated on the top of the hill. Small scaled objects such as the tea cup or the plant pot serve as part of the view and can align with the image of the rest building behind to form the moment needed to frame the view of the city. The design process allows me to discuss how the geometry negotiates the intimate and the whole city, which becomes a metaphor for politics.
The project explored the concept of visual sensitivity, which
was tested by visual assessment of the view on the points around the ‘perfect’
viewpoints. The points are identifies based on a matrix system.
By assessing the concept of visual sensitivity, the project identifies a design strategy to define the form of the consensus table and the consensus room. In this example, the perfect viewpoint is located in the centre of the meeting table, a location where people cannot access easily. The meeting table is shaped to ensure all guests can have a good view, whereas the form of the consensus room is defined specifically so that all locations within the consensus room can have a view that is comprehensible. Standing outside the consensus room, the concept of view will become incomprehensible.