Metaxourgio in Athens: A Territory of Rapid Changes

The following post comes courtesy of Global Site Plans' The Grid. CNU and Global Site Plans recently teamed up to syndicate Grid content, as its contingent of writers presents a view on the opportunities and issues of urbanization all across the world. CNU will carry select posts from the Grid direct on the CNU Salons.

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Metaxourgio is a residential area of west-central Athens, in close distance to squareOmonia. The vicinity’s current urban characteristics stem from its industrial past, which, today, is composed of a big reserve of empty unused buildings, open spaces, small traditional cafés, craftsmen’s workshops on the ground floors of residential buildings, and half-abandoned buildings. Metaxourgio is also a territory of interesting social mingling: working-class residents, immigrants from China and Islamic countries, and people from its red-light district create a multicultural and underground human mosaic.

Nevertheless, during the last decade Metaxourgio has been the territory of rapid urban transformations with an apparent goal of invigorating this blighted area and turning it into an artistic meeting point, a quarter of luxury rental places, and entertainment. These urban transformations were introduced either by the state and the private sector, or were the consequence of urban planning in nearby areas, like those of Psiri and Gazi.[map]

Some milestone years for Metaxourgio were:

2000: Inauguration of the Metaxourgio metro station and the revamp of the adjacent squares, Avdi and Dourouti;

2006-2008: Construction of a complex of luxury apartments in the heart of the area after a European architectural competition. The competition was held under the initiative of a private construction company, called “Oliaros, that for years has been trying to develop its vision for the same area;

2009: Selective interventions like the construction of the Municipal Art Gallery ofAthens in Avdi Square, the foundation of the Greek Film Archive, and the film museum next to Iera Odos Street.

These transitions increased the number of original cafés and bars in the area, led to an explosion of art galleries and theatres, attracted visitors all over Athens, brought wealthier residents to the area, and contributed to a rise of values in the residential market. On the other hand, during the last two years, the economic crisis has lowered real estate prices and has hindered the fast pace of the aforementioned interventions.

Do you think that, in some cases, an economic crisis would help urban transitions to develop in a less abrupt and a more sustainable way?

To read the original post, written by Alkisti Victoratou, visit Global Site Plans.

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