August 19 2014

Thessaloniki, Greece’s Twelve Apostles’ Square is Changing

The project had an initial budget of 937,500 Euros and an actual of 478,787 Euros, and is expected to be completed within nine months. The contract, which was signed on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, included the rehabilitation of Paparrigopoulou, Saint Apostles and Olympou Streets; the small path that crosses between the Walls. It also included interventions to the road surface, the pedestrianization of the small street Amazonon, the construction of a staircase at the intersection of Saint Dimitriou and Amazonon Streets, the redesign of the square that is in front of the Twelve Apostles’ Church, one that is located on the pillar of the Byzantine Nunnery and, last but not least, the enrichment of the area with water systems.

Twelve Apostles Square Area, Thessaloniki, Greece

The area of Twelve Apostles is defined by Saint Dimitriou, Kalvou, Karatza Streets and the Walls to the west. It reaches the Vardariou Square and includes many of the city’s monuments.  For several years, dense habitation and parked cars have degraded the area. The abandoned Twelve Apostles’ square is one of the city’s few open spaces on the west side and is about to undergo a change.

Saint Apostles’ Church is on the first part of Olympou Street and was built around 1310-1314 according to signs that were found. The pillar on the south side of the temple and the water tank in the north-west prove that this building used to be a Catholic Monastery, initially dedicated to Holy Mary.

Twelve Apostles Square Area, Thessaloniki, Greece

Besides Saint Apostles’ Church, among the monuments of the area there is one Byzantine water tank (called “kinsterna”), the “Propulo,” and the Ottoman Water Bath called “Pasa Chasam.”  The part of the Walls that defines the area, including a series of archaeological findings are not included in the rehabilitation project the Municipality is planning to complete in the near future.

The open competition regarding the rehabilitation of the surrounding area of Twelve Apostles’ monumental covey took place in 2007 and advocated a contract for the design which was completed and approved in 2010. The problems that this project had to deal with were: the dense sprawl, the car “dominance,” the squatting of pavements by movable or fixed obstacles and tables and chairs by cafés, the dustbins, the unregulated placement of urban equipment, the lack of green spaces, the dominance of cement and paved areas, and the lack of aesthetic.

The preliminary design that won the first prize belongs to “TROPALIS ETE” – Chr. Kouloukouris – A. Tseranidis E.E. The project proposed the development of a network of pedestrian and traffic calmed zones that will, thanks to the appropriate interventions and materials, designate the monuments’ importance. The area will give priority to pedestrians and will ensure visitors’ security, an increase in number of visits to the area, and PWD (persons with disabilities) accessibility.

Thessaloniki, Greece's Twelve Apostles' Square Master Plan

The proposal also suggests water installations, which will connect the area with its past, as it’s the place where the old Byzantine “kinsterna” used to be. Additionally, the architects have proposed an aesthetic upgrade with other installations, such as taps, appropriate lighting, and elegant informative signs. The proposal indicates that green spaces will be created in front of the buildings.

The prizewinning proposal includes the transport design needed for planted spaces and the design of the electromechanical installations. The architects who participated in the proposal are Chr. Kouloukouris, A. Kefala-Kouraki, N. Kouloukouri, M. Grani, T. Vakoura, N. Metrzios, K. Kapesidis, S. Papadopoulos, Efth, Saliachis, I. Tsalikis and M. Nomikos.

The square’s reuse as a place where people can sit and relax will upgrade the entire area and will contribute the monuments’ reintegration into the city’s vitality. Construction will begin promptly and is expected to be completed by June of 2015.

Has a rehabilitation project occurred in your community recently?  Has it upgraded your city?

Original article, originally published in Greek, here.

Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Eleni Vraka.

Dafni Dimitriadi

Dafni Dimitriadi is a student of Architecture at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Her numerous experiences in participating in architectural competitions have helped her understand the importance of research and design. She is interested in building and urban design restoration and aims to continue her studies in order to gain more knowledge related to these fields. She is an active volunteer and has participated in many interesting projects, including Open House Thessaloniki. She currently lives in Thessaloniki and through her blogs aims to explore developments associated with architecture and urban design.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 at 9:09 am and is filed under Architecture, Dafni Dimitriadi, Engineering, History/Preservation, Landscape Architecture, Urban Development/Real Estate, 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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