Architect group launches mapping project on Symi

Staring earlier this month, a group of 15 architects have been roaming the alleyways of the villages of Gialos and Horio on Symi in the southeastern Aegean, as part of a plan to photograph every building from every angle. The aim is to highlight the architectural characteristics of the two traditional settlements and to compile their research into a database that can be used by other scientists and experts in the future.

Inevitably, they will also capturing some real eyesores with their lenses as their detailed recording will no doubt also reveal the kind of shoddy or illegal construction that has marred so many beautiful parts of Greece.

The idea for a detailed architectural map of Symi is the work of the Dodecanese Architectural Association and the project is headed by Anastasia Papaioannou, who has been working on the picturesque island for 35 years.

?The two villages are composed of around 5,000 houses, both lived in and abandoned. The area was listed as a historical settlement back in the 1970s and last year the entire island was listed for protection as an archaeological site,? Papaioannou told Kathimerini.

Once the project is completed, the photographs will be integrated into a map of the area in order to create a database that will be given to the Symi Municipality and other authorities involved with zoning or construction regulations on the island.

?The object is to create an important tool for future researchers, but also to promote the conservation of the island?s architectural characteristics,? Papaioannou said.

The architect added that despite regular inspections by the Culture Ministry, there are numerous examples on the island which demonstrate how the traditional character of buildings has been compromised in the name of ?development? or ?modernization.?

?Two examples are the pergolas and awnings that shield the facades of the buildings in Gialos,? Papaioannou explained. ?Moreover, modern materials and building techniques are often used without any foresight, common sense or taste. For example, over the past few years we have seen aluminum window and door fittings making an appearance, or designs that have no place on the island, such as pitched roofs, which provide attic space. But Symi doesn?t get any snow and thus doesn?t need chalet-style buildings.?