NEWS

The projects that changed the city

Three successful projects changed the quality of life in downtown Athens and regenerated areas that were in decline. Successes in other parts of Greece include town center makeovers in Larissa, Karditsa and Komotini, with the creation of wide pavements and cycle paths that changed the residents’ relationship with their town. Plaka. The 1980s revamp of Plaka saved one of the city’s very few traditional neighborhoods. «The study involved numerous listings of buildings for preservation, a new traffic study and scores of interventions,» said Polyxeni Kosmaki. «Until then, Plaka had been at the mercy of nightclubs. It had begun to lose its permanent residents and was going into decline. Through the regeneration, Plaka retained some of its historic character, its residents and the feeling of a neighborhood. And it also served tourism, but without the excesses of the past.» Commercial triangle. The revamp, also carried out in the 1980s, highlighted important buildings, introduced new rules for construction and land use, while expanding and improving outdoor areas, as well as examining traffic issues. «It is generally agreed that it succeeded in improving the image of the center,» said Kosmaki. «The only area in which it failed was keeping residents, who had already left.» Unification of archaeological sites. The project started in 1988. It involved six areas, the most important of which was the pedestrianization of Apostolou Pavlou and Dionysiou Areopagitou streets around the Acropolis and Ermou Street. The project is continuing, but at a much slower pace. Work on Monastiraki Square was recently completed after long delays. «If you visit the Acropolis area at the weekend, especially in spring and summer, you can see how the city is crying out for major regeneration projects,» said Kosmaki, noting that thousands of people visit the area from all over Athens. «The problem is that work on the west side is not complete, from Plato’s Academy to Iera Odos, which are now the poor relatives.»