22 January 2013

Athens Research Proposal

Tomorrow the Canterbury School of Architecture will be flying off to Athens. Exactly on these dates last year I was visiting Athens as well so when I sat down with Sam Lowe and Cia Helenius to talk about what we would be mapping I was excited to share more than a few experiences.

We stayed at cheap hostel north of Omonia, an area that on google maps looked central and well connected to the rest of the city, little did we know it was famous for its dereliction. There was a concrete high-rise by our accommodation that was completely abandoned. The entrance was boarded up in corrugated steel and the windows had been smashed all around it so all that was left was the blackened concrete. I wouldn't dare photograph it for fear of being branded a female target of the rich touristy kind. The feeling continued down the walk towards Monastiraki then suddenly, by simply crossing Ermou, everything changed.

There are two things that would be interesting to map based off this experience:
1. The fringe between central Athens and it's surroundings.
Done by:
  • Photographing both sides of the street
  • Marking the differences in architecture and iconography
  • Photographing and mapping the differences in graffiti
It might be interesting to compare this line to that of ancient Athens and it's socio-economic districts. Is there a relationship between the three? The reason why I'm using graffiti as a form of mapping is because it portrays the character of the district. For example:


Graffiti felt like such a big part of Athens and a very direct way of injecting meaning onto specific architectures which brings us to the second mapping:
2. The instances of meaning (interaction between an individual and their surroundings).
Done by:
  • Counting the number of pedestrians vrs population in the area
  • Filming human interaction (number of people involved, towards objects or humans, environment response)
There were certain sites that stood out to me especially during last year's trip to Athens, particularly a little plaza filled with wooden second-hand objects right at the historical fringe. It was filled with human interaction and the graffiti was straddling art and tags. I'll be recording, through a more personal manner, my own experiences of the sense of place through sketching.

One last thing: I mentioned in conversation how if the Athen's Olympic park of 2004 is abandoned and yet they spend 9 million a year in maintenance, why don't they just leave it to become derelict? Sam instantly compared it to the telecommunications protocol. If a call fails, hang it and "try again later".


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