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A Necklace for Larissa

  UIA International Architecture Competition |  Municipality of Larissa, Greece

in collaboration with: Christos Chatzichristos, Ilias Kranos and Kyriakos Miltiadou

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Two Strategies and a Tactic for Larissa: Reinforcing, Layering and Relating Differences 

The city: Too much of a good thing…: If something is certain is that Larissa is already a quite lively city! This could be attributed not only to the temperament of its inhabitants and the local culture they sustain, but also to the many pedestrian streets with their many cafes and restaurants and the presence of many small and large public green areas. Still, however pleasant, there seems to be too much of the same thing, and this could, to a large extend, be due to the flat topography.

   The Ancient Theatre A’: An object to be looked at and an urban black hole: It is currently an object to be seen from one side and invisible from      anywhere else. Rather than serving as an active, if not as the most important organ in the body of the city, it acts as a black hole that disrupts the     urban fabric around it.

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Our proposal is based on how the identified positive characteristics of the city can be ‘harnessed’ in order to create a spatial syntax for the city center that, with a more differentiated rather than radically altered urban fabric as the backdrop, the main characters of the play can interact and perform their respective roles while allowing for the Ancient Theatre A’ to take center stage. The two Strategies and the tactic. We propose a combination of two larger scale strategies and a smaller scale tactic.

Strategy 1: Avoid erasure through layering. Rather than erasing parts of the present, or more recent past, in order to make room for parts of the older past or the future, we suggest layering the existing of whichever period with any new proposal. This may require the literal or perceptual hierarchical arrangement of layers and the ‘compression’ of some or the ‘expansion’ of others. What is thus achieved is the co-presence of layers, enriching rather than impoverishing the urban experience. The present is not favored or privileged but is also not silenced, allowing it to add its own mark on the city.

Apart from the demolition of the buildings in Block 867C no other expropriations are suggested. Similarly, the removal of the existing shaded corridors that are part of a bioclimatic urban regeneration project is desirable but what is proposed does not depend on such action.

Strategy 2: Reinforce existing differences and relate them syntactically. With the aim of creating more differentiation between areas, routes or elements, any differences, topographical, formal, functional, ideological or other are reinforced or even exaggerated. Like individual words or narratives, these are then spatially syntaxed in order  to compose a story with a clear structure, a structure that includes all the other smaller

stories already told by the city.

The tactic: The Stent method In this surgical procedure nothing is removed. Instead, a new element is added that claims space for the blood to flow through the arteries or veins. The build-up of obstructing material is thus compressed on the sides, making room for the desired flow that gives life to the whole body. A similar procedure is proposed for the city, appearing as different versions depending on the specific context it is found in. It could actually be seen as similar to the strategy of layering mentioned above but applied to a smaller scale, taking advantage of opportunities or elements presented by the immediate environment or situation. The ‘space’ created by the proposed way of using the Stent method could be for literally claiming physical space for desired activities, or in order to claim ‘space’ in the perceptual field by covering over existing sensual clutter.

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