Model village sets architectural example

The town has suffered the fate of most large Greek cities and there are few buildings of Macedonian architecture remaining. The system of «antiparochi» – selling a single family dwelling to a constructor to build an apartment block in exchange for an apartment in it – and the 1995 earthquake have eradicated the old Macedonian mansions. Concrete structures have sprung up in the narrow streets with hardly any squares or green areas in between. The building coefficient has been as high as 5.0. In an attempt to reverse the antiparochi trend, a Smart Active Urban Planning Zone was created, a model settlement of 55 hectares in a rocky and remote area with a fiberoptic network connection offered free to the inhabitants. It has become a center for pioneering businesses and technology. The Smart Village is now fully operational with teleheating, water, sewerage, electricity, telephone and road networks. Two hundred families have settled there as well as executive members of the Western Macedonia Regional authority. A tender has been lodged for the construction of a large shopping center, hotels and residences. The human aspect has been central to the new type of construction. All civic and school buildings must conform to bioclimatic regulations and use renewable energy. A significant advantage is the village’s easy access to the Egnatia Highway. There are also plans to build a university campus nearby. The Village hopes to become a hub for people living in Western Macedonia, southern Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, just a one-and-a-half hour drive away. The five-year strategic plan will gradually change the city’s image and bring about a major transformation.