Once the redevelopment of the Thessaloniki’s central square is completed, according to the new proposal that won the first prize in the municipality’s architectural competition, visitors are seen taking in a walking route that begins from a palm tree-surrounded space off central Tsimiski Street and ends at a newly imagined, “water-themed” Aristotelous Square.
Earlier this month, the jury awarded first prize to the concept proposed by architects Ariadne Vozani and Paraskevi Fanou, who hatched the idea to divide the Aristotelous axis into two squares with Tsimiski serving as a “border.”
According to the announcement, the new Aristotelous Square will have a lower tier in its central part (between Mitropoleos Street and Nikis Avenue) that will serve different functions: either as a “stage” for events or as a cooling point with water jets that will either have a fountain effect or create a still “mirrored surface.”
New materials will be used for the paving, while the square will reveal traces of the city’s old urban fabric from before the disastrous fire of 1917.
From the Egnatia side and up to Tsimiski, Aristotelous is divided into themed units with distinct parts. The first will be the “Palm Tree Square,” in the shade of which seating will be placed.
As we descend toward the sea, the “rooms” will alternate, hosting the water and ephemeral market area, a section with ornamental and real magnolias, and an outdoor sculpture gallery. The statue of Aristotle will be placed in a more central location, and the outdoor clock in the square will be redesigned.
At first sight, the proposal to divide the axis into smaller thematic squares is reminiscent of the creation of gardens on the seafront, but here the area of intervention is smaller, and a unified theme might have been preferable. The placement of palm trees, especially for shading purposes, seems a questionable decision, while special attention will have to be paid to the water elements, as similar projects in other parts of Thessaloniki have not ended well.
For the redevelopment, the Municipality of Thessaloniki has secured funding from the Ministry of Tourism.