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Hagia Sofia, Thessaloniki

Thursday 30 Aug 2012

Layers of history unveiled

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Major redevelopment for one of Thessaloniki's most historic areas 

Hagia Sofia street is one of the most historic streets of the city of Thessaloniki, Greece, connecting many significant monuments. The history and power of the city is burried deep below ground level, covered by a shell of asphalt and concrete. As a symbolic action, the breaking and reconstructing of this shell unveils the hidden layers of historiy (classical, hellenistic, byzantine and modern) and weaves a new web made by passages, places of rest and islets of green.

Restoring the urban connections, involved maximisation of the green areas, controlled vehicular access and extensive pedestrian paths, disengagement of strict urban surrounding via specific lines and etching and finally enhancing area to a large scale landmark. Through this urban regeneration project, one of the most significant urban axes of the city, is transformed. A 'historic path' was designed to unify all the cultural elements of the area, in order to highlight and promote cultural heritage. The street is reformed as a park. Spaces of leisure time, such as: heavy vegetation spots, medium vegetation spots, activity areas (ping-pong, skate-boarding, playgrounds) and mediterranean plantation centres.

The existing vegetation is ornamentally enhanced with evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees. The selection of plants is closely related to the climatic data of the area. A pedestrian bridge overpassing Egnatia Road and a new pier in the lower level of the street. A pedestrian and cyclist network is covering the regeneration area. Special time shifts and spaces for garbage collection, store-provision and large vehicle managment. Considerable increase of vegetation vs noise reduction The proposal aims to establish a development core for the center of Thessaloniki with a metropolitan hub that will grow as a meeting point of urban function and will work not only for the city itself but the Balkans as a whole.

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