The book puts forward, justifies and documents the view that the development of Hellenikon can be conceived as an instrument for central city revitalization. The proposals for the development of Hellenikon are distinguished by three prime motives: (a) the necessity approach, i.e. to reduce the public debt, (b) the green approach, i.e. to create a ‘metropolitan’ park and (c) the visionary approach, i.e. to use it as an instrument for revitalizing the city.
The necessity approach, under the pressure for reducing the public debt, risks leading to the realization of desperate/ improvised/ shortsighted plans.
The green approach presents a positive argument, (everyone agrees Athens needs more green space), but its attractive idea is misplaced: the broader area of Hellenikon is already provided with ample open space; the creation of a metropolitan park at this edge city location would (apart from the high maintenance cost) be an irrational use of valuable public asset, perhaps the most valuable both in economic and in urban planning terms.
The visionary approach aims at revitalizing the underprivileged central city areas. These areas are in a constant crisis, congenital with the post-war reconstruction and extensive expansion of Athens; the crisis now appears gigantic, as problems were allowed to accumulate The fundamental problem is that in a large central area of about 10.000 Ha, built with plot ratios of >2,5 ~2.400.000 people live in conditions of too high densities of people, buildings and cars. This problem cannot continue to be hidden behind the politicians’ superficial enhancement and beautification programs and measures. It requires radical and big scale intervention –affecting private land- to create public open space, appropriate for housing necessary communal services at neighbourhood level.
The visionary view proposes (i) to develop intensely part of Hellenikon, retaining a small part as green area, (ii) to use part of the revenue to create a town development fund, (iii) to use the resources of the fund to install ‘revitalisation nuclei’ in degraded inner city areas (basically green areas that contain other community services and social infrastructure).
The book discusses, among others, the following issues: the criteria and the method for defining the areas to be revitalized, the urban, economic and social costs and benefits of the enormous redevelopment works, the number of households of owner-occupiers and tenants that the creation of parks shall displace, the confrontation of the rehousing problem from the demolition of city blocks, the type of organisation that shall be required to manage the new parks programme,
The proposal is finally exemplified and quantified through a case study of creating a park in Kato Patissia, a declining central area of ~50 Ha.
The conclusion is that, taking unfavourable assumptions for prices and costs for both Hellenikon and the central city areas, it is possible, through the development of part of Hellenikon to create a number of 15 to 30 parks (ave. size 2,3 ha.) in the underprivileged areas of Athens.
Every proposal for the development of public land, decided under the pressure of the effort to reduce the public debt, should go through a filter: that of the enhancement of the city and of a more fair and just distribution of infrastructure goods like common urban space. This principle becomes imperative in cases of developments concerning land of strategic importance such as Hellenikon.
Read More Read Less
Download additional Information