FILOPAPPOU HILL 2031 WORKSHOP
(1 & 2)
Filopappou Hill is an emblematic landscape standing next to the Acropolis, with several layers of attributes which coexist to form a natural and cultural landmark for the city of Athens. Filopappou Hill takes its name from Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, a consul and administrator under the Roman emperor Hadrian; yet it consists of distinct hills with their proper name and significance. The Pnyx directly facing the Acropolis is where Athenians congregated as early as 507 BC to exercise direct democracy in an open-air assembly. Together with the Hill of the Muses, and the Hill of the Nymphs they all combine to what is possibly one of the most significant man-made landscapes. This is not only because of its ancient traces of history both classical and Roman, but also for what is one of the most appreciated contemporary interventions in historical environments worldwide by architect Dimitris Pikionis, who was responsible for producing a network of pathways, and for designing resting areas in the forms of artifacts, which are assemblages of antique fragments, pieced together with debris from the demolitions of the Athenian neoclassical houses taking place at the time of his interventions, in 1957.
The Hill remains a popular destination for Athenians and tourists, and a place where monuments and aspects of both material and immaterial cultural significance of different periods coexist. It is the cradle of ideas and practices that have been cultivated since ancient times, but also sciences such as astronomy as it houses The National Observatory of Athens designed by Danish architect Theophilus Hansen (1942).
At the same time, it is a lung of oxygen and a swath of nature with a special and rich biodiversity in an otherwise densely built and populated city. A place of recreation and “well-being” in which citizens and groups of citizens walk, exercise a variety of sports and are active while they may reflect on history and beauty. In addition, the open-air theatre of Dora Stratou dedicated to traditional Greek dance performances, and the more recent architectural intervention of Babalou and Noukakis architects consisting of a metal structure which finds its niche against an exposed rock surface (2004) which remained from the time it functioned as a quarry, are some of the important places that one can visit.
However, the challenge today is the management of the diverse cultural heritage of the Hill with its different needs of both openness and protection, as well as the best coordination for the production of a modern narrative and construction of a vision for the future of the Hill as an integral part of the history of the environment and society of the city of Athens.
Filopappou Hill is one of the two case studies that we chose to work on at NTUA for the SOPHIA (Social Platform for Holistic Heritage Impact Assessment) program.
The first workshop on Filopappou Hill was an initiative to further engage with the case study, and it took the form of a focus group and was conducted on Saturday, February 6th 2021 between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM on the zoom and miro platforms.
The first workshop on Filopappou Hill was followed up by a second one, which took place on Saturday, April 17th 2021 between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM using again the zoom and miro platforms, and the same methodology.
10 stakeholders participated (see the chart below) coming from the institutional, and the non-governmental sectors, as well as citizen initiatives. For the first time, this process brought together stakeholders to participate in one event, and thus made obvious the fragmentation with which the site is treated. Everyone appreciated the contribution of the workshop in this direction.
The two workshops were organized loosely on the steps of the Future Workshop technique (developed in the 70s by Robert Yungk, Ruediger Lutz, Norbert Muellert) the purpose of which in a few words is to systematically attempt to gather information from all stakeholders, highlighting the strong and weak points, and the positive and negative aspects of the particular case at hand. These elements are then discussed and assessed collectively, and participants reflect upon the issues, and debate on the analysis brought to focus. This process leads to a common understanding of the topic, which prepares the right environment for actively imagining an ideal state, a desirable scenario for the case at hand, Filopappou Hill in the future. For the FH2031 workshop we set an arbitrary date of 2031, ten years from now. Given, the active visionary nature of the Focus group composed of stakeholders, and their active involvement in providing information and data for the SoPHIA IA draft model, the FH2031 workshop may be considered an Ex-Ante assessment.
The two workshops ended with very positive feedback from everyone, and with the promise that we will keep participants posted about the outcome of the case studies IA testing work being done. We will examine the potential framework for inviting them to the SoPHIA platform in order to continue the active collaboration and deepen into the design of the steps to be taken, as well as to engage in a dialogue with other practitioners from other case studies.
Snapshots of participants and of the interactive miro board from the first workshop