A park that was supposed to be a parking area celebrated on Sunday, 14 of April its 4th year of existence. A small self-organized park in the heart of Athens, Greece has set a very important precedent in the latest urban history of self-managed open spaces for all Greek Cities. The Navarinou Park is located at the junction of Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigi streets, next to the Exarchia area. The area where Navarinou Park stands is one of the liveliest and juvenile areas of the city and at the same time, the main epicenter for many grassroots movements since the beginning of the economic crisis.
Once, in the very same plot, a famous clinic was standing that, in the 1970s, was demolished. In the course of time, the plot was bought by the Technical Chamber of Greece so as to build its headquarters, something that never happened until the final passing of the plot to the municipality of Athens. For years the plot was leased as a parking area until the day it was leaked that it was about to become a parking house. Finally, in March of 2009, residents of Exarchia replied immediately to an internet organized call to stop the Navarinou plot from turning into a parking area. Today, Navarinou plot is a green open area, a space for recreation and leisure, but, above all, it’s a park that promotes community gatherings and the true feeling of safety.
The paradigm of Navarinou Park, from the beginning of its emergence up to today, has been a subject of a plethora spatial, political, social and cultural interpretations and can be regarded as a prime example of bottom-up and decentralized way of thinking and practicing urbanism. At the following short video, one can watch artist D. Geronikos and professor S. Stavridis from the architecture school of Athens, showing you around the park and talking about its role in the urban context of Athens and its characterization as a common space.
What do you think about the sustainability of common spaces that continuously pop-up all over big cities?
Credits: Data, videos and images linked to the sources. Last photo by Vassilis Legakis.