The Uncertain Geographies of Elaionas

O. Ioannou, Nelly Marda

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


Elaionas is an area of extreme controversy; historically, it was the ancient Athenian olive orchard up until the '50s, when it became intensely industrialized. In later years all major companies were either closed or relocated leaving behind a highly polluted urban landscape full of abandoned buildings and derelict voids. Lack of political initiative and funds along with a rather complicated administration regime that includes numerous stakeholders with contradicting interests have halted the implementation of the related presidential decree along with any plans for redevelopment from private investors. The result was the further degradation of the area and its consequent occupation by marginalized social groups; ethnic minorities, illegal immigrants, gypsies and more recently, 2000 encamped Syrian refugees.
The absence of a proper street network and the informal appropriation of land have led to the creation of a chaotic, introvert and uncertain urban landscape, in constant flux that appears to be inaccessible from the outside. The paper presents the creative efforts of the students of an undergraduate and a postgraduate urban design studio in NTUA to map the unjust distribution of land and the current interaction between the different social groups in Elaionas and to use public space as a tool to regenerate the area and establish spatial justice.
Students originally perform a systematic reading of the area's social and spatial characteristics which includes in-field workshops, meetings with major stakeholders and experts in various domains and interviews with people that either dwell or work there. They are then asked to critically reflect upon the information they retrieved and prioritize. Their programs gradually reinstate public space to its immediate stakeholders to control land speculation and the impetuous placement of random, left over uses. They also seek to reestablish the lost continuity between Elaionas and Athens while restoring the natural elements of the landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventPSUC 2018_AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures Series UNSTABLE GEOGRAPHIES-DISLOCATED PUBLICS: "The Urbanization of (in)justice: Public spaces in uncertain geographies" - Nicosia, Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Duration: 16 May 201818 May 2019


ConferencePSUC 2018_AESOP Thematic Group for Public Spaces and Urban Cultures Series UNSTABLE GEOGRAPHIES-DISLOCATED PUBLICS
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