City issue

Urban Theory, articles and research

Adoptions of public spaces- The effects on “public life”

Constantina Theodorou, published on Architektones, vol.11, April 2014

Dos Jotas / DON’T EVEN THINK. New York series 2014

On the sidelines of the hot urban news now, there are some other minor news, which may not seem worthy of attention at first, but in a quiet, subtle, and insiduous way, they prepare a new state of things for the Public Space in Greece. The matter at stake here, is  the private management of public space, a very familiar model in other countries, institutionalized in many different variations. In Greece, it hasn’t obtained yet any official legal form, though the following examples pave the way for it, eliciting social legitimacy and consensus.
In the shadow of all the big urban issues last year we came across these little news. First all it is the Municipality’s decision to assign the National Garden to NEON foundation (Daskalopoulos, its founder, is one of the most economically powerful men in Greece and big art collector) in order to expose its sculpture collections and organize art biennales and other events. Then it is the initiative for the “adoption” of Syntagma square by the owner of Grande Bretagne, Athens’ most luxurious hotel lying just adjacent to the square, and last of all it is the initiative of the NGO “Paradigmatos Charin ” (aka “For example”) to renovate playgrounds in Athens, starting with a playground in the central neighbourhood of Koukaki, one of the least problematic areas of Athens of crisis. The first case, of NEON foundation, is fortunately at this moment on the court, after the intervention of “Friends of National Garden” group, who accuse NEON for intending to change the form and function of the garden, which is a national monument under preservation. As for the playground initiative, the whole neighbourhood rose up against it , as a response to the cut tress and the strongly intrusive design.
In the cases of National Garden and the playground, the nature of interventions, whic had to do with alterations of the existing landscape and cutting of trees, had an impact to some sensitive citizens, who reacted against them. Instead, the polishing of Syntagma’s square didn’t bother anyone at all, maybe because no one paid any attention to the rest of the news, that the maintenance of the square is undertaken by the hotel owner, with all that this entails. Continue reading