NEWS

Zisis Kotionis, architect

With the Olympic Games works, Athens has undergone a planned reorganization for the first time in its modern history. Despite extensive private fragmentation of land and small building units, the city is taking a second look at itself and the possibilities for development on a large scale in the future. For the day after, the question is how existing political institutions managing urban areas, which have failed, since the fall of the junta, to produce an overall discourse, programs and plans for Athens, will reconcile themselves to the dynamics of this new perception of the big city. Moreover, the next question is whether Greek society, with its new institutions, can be trusted to produce new creative designers and thinkers who can envision the constant transformation of the city. Or will it remain in thrall to oversized technical companies – who also happen to be in a crisis? Beyond the how (a political issue), there is the key question of what we do after 2004. I think that the burning issue for 21st century Athens is its rapid spread beyond the Athens basin into the Attic peninsula, which was already set in motion by the new major infrastructural transport works. The time has come for a debate on a program for the whole of Attica, which will design urbanization (into Attica) according to criteria for a big city, and not a large village. Only such a political scheme… would be able to redefine the relationship between the city and the country, highlight the Aegean coastline, include the mountains and create a new environmental pact on the sprawl of Athens into the Attic peninsula. A program for Athens-Attica is the major issue. Zisis Kotionis is associate professor at the Department of Architecture at the University of Thessaly.