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Transforming Public Space in Thessaloniki: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Responses to Crisis

Evangelia Athanasiou, Asst. Professor, Dept of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Tuesday 16th April 2013 - 5:00pm
Council Chamber, Glamorgan Building

Public lecture hosted by the Innovation and Engagement Unit.

The current economic crisis leaves a strong imprint on public space, in Greek cities. The visualisation of the effects of crisis on the most vulnerable sections of the society is most vivid on the streets and squares.  Lack of maintenance by the local authorities is legitimated on the grounds of reduced state funding.  Shops close down and formerly busy commercial streets are transformed into unfrequented places.  Sense of fear is enhanced by discussion on safety, which is rocketing and actively promoted by the mass media.

Finally, political struggle and dissent take place on central public spaces foregrounding the political arena and reinventing its, often questioned, relation to streets and squares. Responses to crisis often focus on public space following two diverting strands: while top – down responses appear to be consistently ceding squares and streets to private management and exclusive regulation, bottom-up responses often suggest ways of claiming public space back.