Project: Traces of Commerce 2: New Creative Cells of Exchange | Year: 2015 | Collaborators: City of Athens, Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), Social Security Fund for the Free-Lance Professional (OAEE) | Location: Athens | Project Leaders & Curators: Haris Biskos, Martha Giannakopoulou | Project Coordination: Clelia Thermou | Project Management: AT Management | Production Assistants: Helias Dagas, Anna Mastori | Graphics & Web Development: Konstantinos Stamatopoulos | Direction of Photography: Babis Giannikakis | Commission: Initiative | web: http://www.tracesofcommerce.com
While most of the cities in the world lack space, the city of Athens, an urban context severely hit by the financial crisis, has 30% of its building reserve empty. The city’s ground-floor network, once the steaming engine of its urban welfare, has now become a redundant landscape of empty pocket spaces. Within this pragmatic context of decay, «TRACES OF COMMERCE» is organized as an initiative aiming to bring back to a state of activity a vacant public space of Athens, «Stoa Emporon» (Arcade of Merchants). A dead zone in the heart of Athens city center which remained stagnant, with its small shops empty of any commercial activities for more than a decade. The vision of our initiative is the re-birth of this symbolic public space through the establishment of a productive platform with interdisciplinary synergies that opens up to the city. «TRACES OF COMMERCE» initiative first begun in May 2014 hosting 12 diverse creative collaborations who experimented on the dipole theme «old-new commerce» generating an environment of participatory activities with the engagement of local community agents into open collaborative workshops. The program launched its 2nd phase in December 2014 under the umbrella «NEW CREATIVE CELLS OF EXCHANGE». Following an open call for proposals, 10 shops of Stoa Emporon were assigned for free to creative start-ups and small entrepreneurial collaborations transforming the ground level of the Social Security Fund for the Merchants building into a transparent laboratory of creativity.
Project: Traces of Commerce: 12 Operations at Stoa Emporon | Year: 2014 | Collaborators: City of Athens, Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), Social Security Fund for the Free-Lance Professional (OAEE) | Location: Athens | Project Leaders & Curators: Haris Biskos, Martha Giannakopoulou | Production & Communication: Clelia Thermou | Graphics & Web Development: Konstantinos Stamatopoulos | Direction of Photography: Stathis Mamalakis | Project Management: AT Management | Commission: Initiative | web: http://www.tracesofcommerce.com
Traces of Commerce was organized as an initiative to reactivate a dead zone of Athens, “Stoa Emporon” (Arcade of Merchants) and its small shops, a part of the city which has been lifeless, empty of commercial activities, for more than 20 years. The fundamental goals of this project were, on the one hand to give life back to a neuralgic space of the city with important urban specificities and spatial structure and on the other to create a framework of synergy among creative interdisciplinary collaborations, forms of local governance (Municipality of Athens, Athens Development and Destination Management Agency) and public organizations (Social Security Fund for the Merchants). Critical parameter of this project, based on which we defined the concept of urban regeneration, was the active participation of citizens, in the scale of the neighborhood, into the productive activities of the program. For a period of one month, we created an environment of collaborative activities, with the participation of local community, technicians, experts and stakeholders inside the physical space of the arcade. The small shops of the arcade operated in the beginning as laboratories for exploring materials and merchandizing activities, then as spaces inside which the actual implementation of design proposals took place throughout participatory workshops open to the public and finally as exhibition spaces projecting the final outcomes of the program to a public eye.
Project: Re-Launching Athens: Municipality of Athens Operational Program 2012-2025 | Year: 2012 | Client: City of Athens | Editors in Chief: Yannis Aesopos, Haris Biskos | Book Design & Diagrams: Haris Biskos | Texts: City of Athens, AT Management, Yannis Aesopos, Haris Biskos | Research: AT Management, Haris Biskos | Project Management: AT Management | Commission: Direct Commission
Re-launching Athens is a project that aims at the financial, social and morphological renewal of Athens City. It has to do with the understanding of a historic urban space and, at the same time, with the modernization of an abandoned and sorely tried urban landscape. The aim is to cover preexisting needs of its people, such as the upgrading of the quality of life of specific groups of the population (abused women, children, and the elderly etc.) and the creation of the necessary green spaces, as well as needs that occurred due the financial and social crisis. The Municipality of Athens has included these interventions as parts of a broader multi-level strategic plan for the development of the city that extends up to 2020. The strategic planning is continuously evolving and consists of actions and programs that are realized within the three year period of 2012-2015 and which prepare the coordinated intervention up to 2020.
Project: Athens Do-It-Together | Year: 2013 | Client: City of Athens | Location: Athens | Architect: Haris Biskos | Art Curator In Charge: Dimitris Habesis (Phase 1) | Project Management: AT Management | Team (Phase 1): Haris Biskos, Thodoris Svoronos | Commission: Direct Commission
Athens Do-It-Together is a proposal for a syntactic of temporary urban interventions which unfolds as a pin-point master plan in the historical centre of Athens. The project has been integrated into the City of Athens operational program, «Project Athens», a program of direct interventions in the urban space and the economy of Athens, which utilizes resources from the structural funds of the European Union for development projects in the city.
The main objective of this overarching plan of ephemeral interventions is to re-activate untapped downtown areas and to contribute into a midterm commercial revitalization operating in an environment of economic and social crisis. At the same time, as a productive platform for the the implementation of new ideas, it provides ground for experimentation to new, emerging creative networks and “city makers” who participate in the design procedures and the implementation of the individual interventions. Young artists, creative networks and collectives that have emerged in the city of Athens within the era of financial crisis, NGOs, research groups and communities join in a creative process to change together the image of contemporary Athens.
Through this project specific interventions are announced in selected parts of the city that are idle, empty from public and commercial activities and which conceal a potentiality in terms of their urban influence. Resources which remain unexploited such as vacant shops and empty storefronts and could accommodate small art exhibitions illuminating deserted and dark locations. Empty buildings or buildings which are reconstructed and that could be the foundation for large-scale interventions in the city’s facades. Arcades that are mis-used and that could host collective actions. Public places of larger scale that could be converted into ephemeral landmarks.
Project: Eleonas Masterplan: An urban-agrarian vision for Eleonas | Year: 2012 | Client (managing agency): City of Athens, Athens Development and Destination Management Agency | Location: Athens | Program:Housing, Offices, Sports Center, Convention Center, Bus Station, Park | Architect in Charge: Yannis Aesopos | Collaborating Architects: Anna Papadaki, Haris Biskos, Angeliki Evripioti, Kostas Vourekas, Helli Pangalou (landscape), Ioanna Koulouri
Eleonas, Olive Grove in Greek, constitutes an “urban enclave” within the urban mass of Athens located only two kilometers west of the city’s center. It stands on the area of an ancient olive grove and can be perceived as an extended formless, undefined, uncanny area that contains a random collection of manufacturing, storage and transportation facilities in constant flux combined with neglected leftovers of the original landscape of Attica.
The proposed Master-Plan acknowledges the area’s key location as a nodal point for all mobility networks of the broader Athens Basin and its proximity to the city center and the port of Piraeus. It supports the implantation of large-scale buildings with mainly tertiary sector programs within the core of the area as stimulators for development; they are supported by a new LRT line which crosses the area form north to south and connects to all other public transportation networks. As a balance to the insertion of new building surfaces to the area, the upgrading of the green environment is considered fundamental and is realized through the reconstruction of a new large-scale linear olive grove (a “new Eleonas”), the reconstruction of Profitis Daniel Stream and the extensive planting of olive groves, orchards, collective farming in the form of allotments and public parks. The presence of housing is strongly supported using new typologies, different from that of the typical “polykatoikia” (the Greek apartment building). The simultaneous use of tools for economic development with the strengthening of the natural/landscape character of the area create a new “urban-agrarian” environment.