NEWS

Halkida

The invasion of apartment blocks has also had a major impact on the development of the city of Halkida. Architect and urban planner Constantinos Gartsos said this has caused the disappearance of squares, yards, and any open spaces linking private and public areas. In their place, a system has been imposed that turns the street into a light well and a channel for traffic, excluding any other social activity. In 1979, when Gartsos and his colleagues started their study on Halkida, the actual city was three times bigger than the town plan. «The apartment blocks had already overrun the town plan, replacing the traditional fabric, while in areas of illegal construction a hodgepodge of conflicting land uses prevails,» he said. The state was either unable or unwilling to curb the mass influx of farm workers to the cities. Instead, it promoted ways of producing cheap housing, at no expense, such as the antiparochi system of swapping land for apartment blocks and illegal buildings. Since then, poverty on the periphery continues to supply Halkida with people who hope to find work and who must resort to cheap apartment blocks or illegal buildings. Indicatively, about 200 new buildings that are built annually create 844 new residences. «This solution, though, means that the new resident abandons all social aspirations,» Gartsos said. «He does not go onto the balcony as it does not function as an open area for the residence. He turns his back on his neighbors and shuts himself up in his apartment.»