9 January 2013

Athens Project Introduction

Deep breath... it's time to get back to work with the Athens Project.

We are to research and design a mechanism that will enable or reposition the social and political position of Athens by looking at how the Olympic structures have transformed the city.

How architecture creates meaning by referencing theory of game design was the topic of my research thesis and what place displays a larger crisis of meaning than the 2004 Olympic park of Athens? In my thesis I make a quantic definition namely that space is directly linked with time and movement. As such space cannot exist without the movement of its users. When there is no life, there is no space. Like the palace of Sanssouci that lay abandoned after Frederick the Great's death, the Olympic park of Athens too lays desolate of life. Time and movement has stopped and with it, space. It now has just one meaning: stagnation.

By a rather interesting chance the Olympic park of 2004 was designed by Calatrava, an architect from my home-city of Valencia with a tendency to design sculptural structures. It is this very top-down form of designing of his, putting the user as secondary, that risks experience and meaning. As I discussed in my thesis, ancient Greek architecture was actually very user-centric. Home of democracy and center of the Occupy, it has a history of bottom-up structures designed to produce a very intense sense of meaning. Calatrava designs the Olympic park as an auditorium for visitors to observe the spectacle when the Athenians created architecture as a stage for us to act for the gods.

The goal for this project is then this: to re-inject meaning into Athens. As discussed, the way to achieve this is by putting the user central to the experience and have the architecture respond in a way unique to them. So far it is a very broad goal in need of a specific architectural program to achieve it but the trip to Athens will help with that.


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