International Competition of the Redesign of Aristotelous Square and Axis
Municipality of Thessaloniki
Architectural Design : Efi Karioti,Architect MSc
Eleni Samara , Architect, MSc VE: 3d images and video Fanis Georgiadis ,Eleni Antoniadou , Elena Lazarina , Sotiris Grigoropoulos , Architecture students
Architect Advisor: Angelos Papageorgiou, Architect
Lighting design: Athena Sivi ,Electrical Engineer MA
Landscape design Advisor: Christa Lieven - Antoniou Horticulturist PhD
Stuctural engineer: Pantelis Zervas- Civil Engineer Phd
Project budget estimation: Efi Karioti Architect , Pantelis Thomas Civil Engineer
Photo survey: Costis Economidis
Aristotelous axis and Square, designed by French architect and urban planner Ernest Hébrard, present a complete sample of his large scale architectural and planning proposal for the city of Thessaloniki and form an articulated architectural complex with distinct characteristics. It is one of the most important public open spaces in the city and the shortest route one can take to experience the city’s social stratification. The proposal aims to complement the Aristotelous unique urban complex with a “connecting grid” that will invigorate the urban experience. New programs are introduced at the axis’ sections, to increase the amount of time spent at the place. These include “Smart City” and digital technology applications to enhance social interaction (Digital Art Gallery, Cluster), places of social bonding (Playground) and reshaped places of recreation (cafés). The new programs introduced will connect with well-established cultural and high-profile cultural attractions situated on the axis, like the Olympion cinema, the Electra Palace Hotel, the Ianos bookstore. Aesthetic upgrading will enhance the use of public space.
The new urban “fabric”
We propose a new terrazzo floor, suitable for public spaces with a repetitive pattern, stretching over the whole area defined by the competition. The form is inspired by the horse-shoe shape of Aristotelous Square, the arches of the galleries defining the axis and Square, fine terrazzo floors found in buildings along the axis and the ornamental motifs in the buildings’ corniches. The floor complements the axis architecture and becomes the unifying element to connect the two lateral parts. It also brings a poetic quality to the space since when seen from the stroller’s viewpoint it creates the optical illusion of a waves, a constant reminder the proximity of the sea. In terms of functionality, the pattern΄s shape inspires the design of the urban equipment so that the proposal appears aesthetically constant.
The element of water appears in various installations along the axis; in the form of a reflecting pool as a monument for the refugees in Thessaloniki’s history, as clusters of small sparkling jets that reflect light along the walkway, as an enclosed “relic” to show where the ancient seaside stood on the Aristotelous Square…
The axis program
We aim to bring new meaning in the public open space by giving each part of the axis a special character.
the square facing Egnatia Street with the water reflecting pool presents a monumental yet serene conclusion το the walkway, followed by a small open Digital Art Gallery at the section from Vatikiotou str. To Ermou str. The Gallery will provide a public open art show, hosting cultural, environmental and historical themes. A special place for the statue of Aristoteles is provided at this section. The following section up to V. Herakleiou Str. aims to enhance social connectivity by means of an informal playground with a set configuration inspired by sea waves and the city. The section from Ermou str. to Tsimiski Str. close to the Ianos bookstore features an Urban e- Cluster where a multi-use seating space is provided, equipped with all necessities for internet access.
The lower part of the axis from Tsimiski str. to Aristotelous Square is designed around the theme of “Red Carpet”. The concept derives from the attractions of Olympion Cinema (and the renowned Thessaloniki Film Festival openings taking place there), and the Εlectra Palace Hotel. A surface of crimson-hued terrazzo, in harmony with the color of the gallery columns stretches in the centre of the horse-shoe shaped square with specially designed chairs. It feels like an open space lounge that invites visitors to, what could be considered, the heart of Thessaloniki’s cultural life. Τhe terrazzo floor extends over Mitropoleos Str like a wide pedestrian crossing to connect the two parts of Aristotelous Square.
Aristotelous Square features the partial excavation of the ancient City wall that runs along the north side of the Square, complemented by a water episode to indicate the position of the ancient sea-shore. Along the two sides of the Square arrangements of shading modules with green roofs provide sheltered space for the square cafés. The motif design on the floor along with the wave like pattern invigorates the square, creating a dynamic relation with the everchanging sea moods and the arbitrary element of human presence.