3 TEMPLE AXIS - pedestrianization in the city centre of Thessaloniki, National Architecture Competition entry for Agia Sophia axis, organized by the greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change
location: Agia Sophia str axis, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2012
architects: Xaris Tsitsikas, Dimos Moysiadis, Georgie Anastasiadis
transport planning: George Yannis
landscape planning: Katerina Chiotelli
MEP design: Michalis Bakaloumis
The city of Thessalloniki, which operates through and is simultaneously bound to a historicity embedded deep within its urban fabric, is at the present time required to meet the demands of a modern metropolis, serving both its residents as well as the supralocal community. The proposal for the redevelopment of the Agia Sophia Axis, which is summarised here, is based on the contention that the city’s operational development and its sense of history have to be addressed as interdependent concepts, drawing on the already existing contemporary elements, deriving from international examples, which bring forward the unique character of the city.
The proposed axis is aesthetically and operationally integrated into the surrounding area aiming towards creating a better quality of life for the local population and stimulating the local economy, also taking into account future redevelopments in other parts of the area. Drawing on contemporary policies of urban sustainable mobility the proposal’s primary focus lies in the pedestrianization of the area. A detailed analysis of circulation and traffic management is provided, which incorporates the delineation of different ways of highlighting and protecting the surviving Byzantine monuments, creating a dialectical relationship between pedestrian flow and the area’s historical heritage. Employing strategies of selection, abstraction and reduction, the present proposal outlines an infrastructure that allows for the unified use of the new axis while simultaneously maintaining the characteristics of its containing parts, thus achieving the organic reconstitution of the area. Uniform and simple gestures, combined with the solid organization of the space lead to the desired aesthetic and functional result, characterized by its user-friendliness, optimal energy efficiency achived by means of the passive bioclimatic methods employed, as well as an economy of scale with regards to materials, expertise of implementation and the completion time-frame.