The key to rethinking, and ultimately reviving, Athens is to be found from within. At a time when Athens is undergoing a severe test a close look at the city’s existing and inherited qualities reveals strong conditions for rejuvenation and self-belief. ‘Athens Acts’ does not advocate a radical revamp, but instead proposes a clear framework, a scenography if you like, that creates the conditions to enable the people of Athens themselves to take centre stage and determine their own city. The pedestrianisation of Panepistimiou Boulevard will finally make the completion of a pedestrian triangle together with Aiolou and Ermou Street possible. Each side of the triangle will carry its own identity with Panepistimiou becoming Athens’ premiere creative and cultural axis with dozens of historic buildings, theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries. Furthermore Panepistimou and Patission will be perceived as a new, unified boulevard that starts at the University and National Archaeological Museum, ends at Syntagma and links all the iconic squares in between. The atmospheres of the surrounding neighbourhoods will be reflected in the squares and boulevard to create distinct local identities. Reciprocally the axis will be an enormous boost to the revitalization of these local areas. This is particularly valid for Omonia that, when closed to car traffic and opened to pedestrians, will at last fulfill its potential as a vibrant metropolitan plaza and become a catalyst to regenerate the areas to its Northwest.
The future identity of Panepistimiou Boulevard lies very much within the special program that can already be found along the boulevard, above all the trilogy of university, library and academy, and the opera. These provide the foundations for creating a vibrant cultural axis in the city centre.
The design maximizes the positive impact of the local climatic and microclimatic conditions, whilst minimizing non-beneficial impacts, to ensure sustained pedestrian comfort through passive and low energy means. The strategy focuses on reducing direct solar access to street levels, harnessing prevailing winds to promote cooling air movement, using water to moderate the local climate, minimizing water consumption, maximizing the benefits of rainwater, using solar energy to power night lighting and promoting green roofs to reduce the heat island effect and promote biodiversity.