August 08 2014

Farewell to The Grid, from Chris Christou in Athens, Greece

Chris Christou, Global Site Plans, The Grid, Athens, Greece

My journey with The Grid started on the streets of Athens in February 2014, on an unexpectedly sunny day in-between a gloomy and rainy week. I had in front of me, six months to explore the Athenian urban and suburban landscapes. My first priority was to investigate the current status of environmental design, and all other elements that surround city life or emerge from within. Living all of my life in Athens, I wanted to highlight its weakest features and express my opinion about the city where I grew up and love.

As the oldest settlement in Europe, that became a capital city and the cradle of western civilization, Athens isn’t just an old city. Most Athenians are condemning their city for its current status and focusing only on the negative aspects, while on the other hand, cherishing its history and heritage, creating a complex love/hate relationship. From the rows of palm trees on the side of Poseidonos coastal avenue to the olive groves of Pnyka Hill in downtown, and from the classical marble ruins to the modern glass buildings, Athens is full of contrasts and hidden surprises that never cease to amaze you.

What I found out is how much more the younger generations living in Athens are advocating for the city, in contrast to older citizens; fighting and demanding a better city life. In the years of crisis we rethink and redefine Athens, but not only through corporate plans and large scale interventions; the local initiatives become stronger than ever and small scale projects are being realized in order to improve the urban environment. Different voices heard for the first time, concerns about how friendly Athens is to bikers and runners, or what options are left for the urban landscape to become more attractive. The beautification initiatives and the local actions for redefining public space are in my opinion the most interesting examples of citizens raising awareness of environmental and urban design issues.

Acropolis Athens, Greece

Growing, expanding and being rebuilt, Athens has found its rhythm as a contemporary metropolis, enduring all the unwanted side effects but receiving all the privileges as well.

Besides enriching my knowledge in urban matters, writing for The Grid was a great opportunity to practice my time management skills, organize my thoughts and express them while having the valuable help and constructive feedback from my Editor, Erica Besler and Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Renee van Staveren. Once again thank you for your support.

Currently looking forward to my summer vacations, I salute The Grid and all its readers.

Credits: Images by Valia Stavrianidi. Data linked to sources.

Chris Christou

Chris has a Master's degree in Water Resources Science and Technology from the National Technical University of Athens. He started studying Mining Engineering and Metallurgy, but later on he concentrated his bachelor studies on Environmental Engineering, Waste and Water Management. During his late academic years he participated in environmental technology research projects. He is from Athens, Greece. His family, which consists mostly of civil engineers and architects, descends from the well-known stonemasons of the island of Santorini. Today he divides his time between Varkiza, a south-coast suburb of Athens, and Pagrati, downtown Athens, which he considers his home. Growing up in this central neighborhood he was able to witness the various changes in the city throughout the years. Observing his urban surroundings and influenced by his family, from an early age he became concerned about the urban environment. An inquisitive and creative person, he enjoys walking around the centre of Athens on quests for new or hidden details. Blogging for The Global Grid will be an opportunity to discover, highlight, and study the present state of environmental design in Athens, including potential outlets to improve the Athenian urban life.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 9:58 am and is filed under Chris Christou, Environmental Design, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “Farewell to The Grid, from Chris Christou in Athens, Greece”

  1. Rafael Says:

    Dear Chris,

    thank you for this article and also the one about Kifissos and Ilissos http://www.globalsiteplans.com/environmental-design/kifissos-ilissos-rivers-a-tale-of-two-rivers-in-athens-greece/. I especially like your question: “Imagine how different Athens, Greece would be, if there was a river, or two, complementing the urban environment”!

    Preparing for a trip to Athens this coming week (i.e. as of tomorrow), I wanted to shared with you the Big Jump Initiative for rivers and lakes across Europe, with a Big Jump planned for summer 2014 http://bigjump-en.psd2cto.de/home.html. Maybe also at Kifissos? If you are around Athens this week, please get in touch so that we can meet up and explore possibilities.

    Last but not least on urban design and rivers: here is a nice initiative on river reappreciation from Berlin:
    http://www.flussbad-berlin.de/ The idea is to create a river bath in central Berlin, reusing a canal, including a swamp upstream of the canal for water purification.

    Cheers, Rafael

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