- ATHENS AT THE FOREFRONT
What to say about a city like Athens that defies categories?
It’s been around for millennia, a city that has risen to the limelight, and has been falling into oblivion, or flirting with collapse for all sorts of reasons. And then back again. It seems to have the propensity for ups and downs of a roller coaster.
I have been thinking lately about what other people’s views coming from the four corners of the earth might be for Athens. Immigrants, and refugees have to think about their survival, but the place no doubt resonates in their thoughts and everyday life. Meanwhile tourists, reporters, artists and academics, each of them understand something different, each experience their own subjective reality.
For ever elusive, for ever haunting, it recently captures again the collective imaginary and has caught the attention of creative people, academics and others.
In order to judge things in fresh approaches I think there are only two ways to achieve that:
The one is to detach yourself for a period of time, sufficient to allow you to look at things anew and,
the other is to gain insight from the newcomers that are free from the weight that habit produces. They can function as “mirrors” (kathreptis) sending back to us an image of our reality through their eyes.
Groups of students together with their professor Jean-Marc Huygen, a dear colleague and friend with like-minded ideas, have been studying in recent years neighborhoods in the center of Athens, such as Metaxourgeio and Keramikos.
I had the pleasure and honor to be invited as an external expert jury member to students diploma theses treating Athens from the School of Architecture of Marseille, which were presented on January 22.
Chloé Juglard and Thomas Figuera presenting their proposal for breathing new life into Kerameikos based on what is already there in terms of human resources, culture, and potential.
Chloé Juglard, Thomas Figuera and Fanny Lambert were three graduating students that developed proposals for their diploma theses around Athens, more specifically in Kerameikos. Their strategy, inspired by Jean-Marc Huygen’s theories and teaching, is based on community empowerment through the development of spaces which encourage collectivity, debate, and exchange, the reuse of materials and the forging of an updated sense of the local.
“In search of New Harmonies”
“In search of New Harmonies” was the topic of the European Utopian Studies Society that took place in Tarragona, Spain. The presentation made entitled “Imagining Buen Vivir” was a step in an ongoing research project which has started in 2014, during my nine-month period spent in Ecuador as Prometeo researcher.
Crit review and lecturing at an Erasmus exchange with Cottbus Seftenfeld University, Cottbus, Germany
The exchange with colleague Lena Flamm was an opportunity to participate in two Master’s presentations and to give a lecture entitled “Contextualizing urban crises and searching for appropriate tools: The case of Athens”, as well as to participate in very productive discussions and debates with colleagues and doctoral students!
The special issue of the Journal of Peer Production on CITY has been published!
It showcases a wide variety of case studies in cities from different geographies of the Global North and Global South namely Barcelona, Berlin, Brisbane, Brussels, Ciudad Juárez, Dhaka, Genoa, London, Melbourne, Milan, New York, Paris, Rosario.
Some of those case studies focus more on peer production technologies and others more on the social and political processes on the ground, all with different research methodologies and approaches. They invite us to reflect on various forms of peer production of knowledge and representation of the city as a commons, where technology should be considered as both a tool (infrastructure) and a contested space. They look at challenges of governance focusing on citizen-driven models of peer production in the city where local governments are called to be in dialogue and build synergies with different stakeholder communities. They use participatory and collaborative methods to collect their data following co-creative research approaches. They are transdisciplinary as much as interdisciplinary in both the methodological and theoretical approaches taken by contributors who merge together urban studies, architecture, informatics, political and social sciences, and ethnography to name a few. The authors collaborated directly – as activists or through their research with other activists, communities and/or stakeholders- giving voice to all those involved in the making and sharing of those projects.
In numbers, there are eight case study research papers which have been peer-reviewed and revised through the particularly transparent review process of JoPP (i.e. for each of the peer-reviewed papers the originally submitted version, the reviews and the final feedback of reviewers on the revised version are made public) and four experimental contributions that have been reviewed by the special issue editors. The experimental pieces follow a less rigorous and more playful format, an interview with commentary, a dialogue, a call for participation, and an open-ended online article. They all invite us, the readers, to follow up their stories in dedicated online venues, or even in face-to-face meetings, and participate in the form of peer production that they advocate for.
Along similar endeavours opening up to possibility and hope in the midst of uncertainty, these twelve stories of peer production, most of them positive and encouraging, document and analyse different forms of citizen engagement and participation. They are good examples of situated action that can provide inspiration and eventually help to build tools, toolkits, best practices, patterns, and methodologies. As editors, we learned a great deal while putting together these contributions, all
different in style, context, and methodology. We hope that they will prove inspiring and empowering for all readers as well to engage as citizens-activists, co-creators, insurgent architects, who appropriate and contextualise urban technologies and materialities to serve local collective needs.
Special issue editors: Penny Travlou, Nicholas Anastasopoulos, Panos Antoniadis
Visit s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem
Invited by a colleague, I had the opportunity to visit an exhibition, and most importantly the archive on the kibbutz. held by Yuval Yatsky, Head of the Department.
Attended a lecture and participated at the 1st year mid-term review crit. The project given to the students involves the design of a system which caters to the needs of growing a specific plant. The process involves full investigation of the plant’s properties and a design stage which involves materials research, and design of a structure, observation of its performance, etc. Brilliant!
“Η διδασκαλία της αρχιτεκτονικής και η πράξη σε μεταιχμιακές εποχές”
Εισήγηση στα πλαίσια του συνεδρίου για τα 100 χρόνια από την ίδρυση της Σχολής Αρχιτεκτόνων ΕΜΠ
Beyond the Obvious Cultural Agora, Rome
15-17 November, 2017
Invited to act as moderator for the “Engage! Social Innovation & Urban Regeneration” session of the BtO17 (Beyond the Obvious CAE event) in Rome. I had the opportunity to be exposed to a selection of European level initiatives and projects and to get to know the panel’s excellent and highly competent presenters.
August 24, 2017
FAU, Universidad de La Plata, Argentina. Οrganized by Alejandro Meitin
11 June 2016
at the Venice Biennale Greek Pavilion
(part of the “Manifesto for a new architecture” series, Anastasopoulos/Travlou)