The Athens of Euripides | Athens, Greece | Unit 21 | 2019

Awarded Distinction for Thesis

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Euripides, a playwright, was a major figure in Greek history and a part of an era when Athens was rich in culture and social identity. His contributions to theatre were pivotal and his works remain influential across the world today. One of the reasons as to why Euripides has had such an impact is due to his use of narrative and literary devices which allowed him to express his controversial and experimental ideas. Some of these devices have been translated into operations or manoeuvres that focus on the spatial relationships they create in the context of Euripides’ play Medea.

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Key ideas:
• Euripides as a medium through which to understand Ancient Greek theatre, culture and identity.
• Translating literary devices into algorithmic functions that explore spatial relationships.
• Altering the norm, or the familiar, for an outcome that is unexpected or shocking.

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Athens today seems to be devoid of the cultural richness that was inherent in its historical identity. Although ruins exist across the city, they are cordoned off and ‘dead’, and do not seem to be actively celebrated. In order to make these sites more understandable and a larger part of the city’s identity, they need to be revitalised. Euripides, being a figure who had a lasting impact on Greece and was able to provide a new interpretation on stale myths, is an ideal muse for reinterpreting Athens and the ancient sites today.

By refining the algorithmic functions that were translated from Euripides’ literary techniques, a spatial toolkit has been created that allows for a development of architectural outcomes. The Myth, which has its origins in Euripides’ subversion of well-known stories, becomes a tool for the creation of new surfaces. The Chorus, which the playwright used as a datum for the audience to gauge their reactions against, is used to align and sort geometry and also to mass generate forms. The final tool, Stichomythia, was used by Euripides to create tension and a faster pace; translated into an architectural gesture, it becomes a tool that allows for the manipulation of geometry, and in particular, allows for two dimensional surfaces to becomes three dimensional.

The historical, social, mythical and religous contexts of the chosen ancient sites provide the basis for the combination of operations and the parameters of the tools used. The result of this is a new architectural vernacular derived from Greek theatre which manifests itself in unexpected observed characteristics. The proposals all have programmes which are a part of the mundane everday and so they aim to reinvigorate Athens through their architectural excitement as opposed to programmatic. The varying scales, locations and functions of the designs demonstrate the versatility of the toolkit and its potential for use across various other sites

Key ideas in addition to those above:
• A spatial toolkit derived from Euripides that embody certain architectural gestures but have unexpected outcomes.
• Invigorating a ‘dead’ Athens.
• City-wide landscape of everyday architectural proposals that provide a new interpretation of Athens.