The regeneration area is located at the south of Rethymno city centre, along the southern sloping mountains that "descend" to the sea. The site overlooks the sea, the old town and the modern city. The heavy relief is the dominant feature of the study area. The existing built environment does not develop in harmonious relationship with the natural features and the steep topography of the site. This poses an additional challenge to the design objectives, raising in particular a key question; which should be the limits of human intervention to nature so as to maximise the benefits that stem from the presence of natural processes in and around the urban tissue without compromising the functionality and safety of urban environment from natural phenomena? The regeneration study has aimed to determine a set of actions that will improve living conditions for the resident population, particularly in relation to mobility issues. The two key axes of the design proposal are: (a) making part of Kourmouli str. into a one-way road and (b) proper landscaping and urban design to secure adequate space for all types of circulation; pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles. This approach has been adopted for the design of sidewalks and bi-cycle routes and the regulation of flows in the wider area of Kourmouli and Kriari roads, including the zone along Kriari stream. This is a key design condition; to develop an integrated circulation system for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles throughout the entire neighbourhood, in line with the principles of the municipal study for "Sustainable Mobility”. Rather than applying only on interventions to the existing road network, these principles characterise the design of the entire area, aiming to support traffic calming measures and secure uninterrupted and safe pedestrian flows. In parallel, the planned restoration and regeneration of the area around Kriari stream, is a unique opportunity for the revitalization of the natural landscape and the adjacent and wider residential area. Appropriate architectural and landscaping interventions, both within the streambed, and along the open spaces between the stream and the urban fabric, are designed to create a linear park, with intermittent widenings and enclosures, which host activities and function as connecting nodes with the city. The linear park will become the “spine” of the neighbourhood, along which the adjacent areas will de-velop and be organised. In this sense, the park participates visually and actually in daily city life, rather being perceived as an isolated element. It must be noted that the linear park may initially serve local needs, yet it may well open up to attract visitors from all over the city and even beyond, particularly as it offers unique viewpoints to the city’s interesting topography and major landmarks; the expansion and connection of the linear park with other green and open spaces of the city would be a key step towards this direction, transforming the area into a “living” Interactive and Recreation Ecologic Park. Summarising, the idea is to create a uniform flow, expressed through a primary longitudinal motion and linear space, which constitutes the point of reference of the surrounding urban fabric. This is a place geared to serve collective actions, periodic or occasional, as well as everyday activities. It relates with other, more introspective, spaces, with flows and architectural elements, all of which organise and compose the whole experience. The park is the extension of the pedestrian network of the city, which penetrates the area of Kriari stream, creating a unified promenade system and providing the outlet of the urban fabric towards the natural environment. The aim is to develop an ecological park in the edge of the city and in the vicinity of the city centre, creating pleasant and revitalizing conditions both in the adjacent area and the wider area of Rethymno.
Thymio Papayannis and Associates Inc.
G. Andreadis and Associates