Mount Lycabettus, a protagonist in the founding myth of Athens and an active quarry from antiquity until the 20th century, is one of the landmarks of the city’s urban and environmental history. In 1965, the Mount entered anew the city’s collective memory when Takis Zenetos designed the Theater of Lycabettus (1964-65) that added to its polysemous references outdoor concerts, shows and festivals. However, we are also interested in a different set of stories enacted by multiple generations and cultures of Athens; that is, we are interested in the improvised and unplanned appropriations of the hill for stunting and wheelies, cruising and finding anonymous love, drinking beer with friends, eating street food, making graffiti, strolling with kids, gazing at the bewildering city in the hot summer nights, walking with dogs; and more recently for health buffs jogging and doing yoga overlooking the water heaters, antennas, and roofs of Athenian apartment buildings.
Our intervention attempts to converse equally with all of the above individual and collective stories. It strives to highlight the complexity, ambiguity, and vibrant social history of the hill, which accommodates us all, maybe not at the same time or every day, but with respect and tolerance, not unlike the theater’s sonic landscape. Our project creates a flexible, fully reversible and low–budget
infrastructure which sits on a correspondingly dynamic and sustainable landscape intervention that preserves, highlights and updates the characteristics and history of the Mount and Theater of Lycabettus.
Drawing from Zenetos’ architecture, not only from his design of the Theater but also from his experimental settlements of Plakias and Aghia Galini (1966), all added structures to the surfaces of the hill are designed as a dynamic and fully reversible system. This infrastructural system stems from the stone of the old quarry and creates a continuous surface-screen, an interactive field that demarcates and protects the reclaimed public space of the former parking lot. This infrastructure organizes and houses the Theater’s auxiliary services and public amenities, freeing the areas adjacent to the Zeneto’s project from any structures.
Simultaneously, the treatment of the landscape organizes a multifunctional urban space subject to constant change, that encourages unofficial, improvised, and unprogrammed actions and habitations by the city’s dwellers and visitors. The fundamental rule that structures our proposal is that no material is removed from the hill’s proper and that every added structure must have the smallest possible environmental and architectural footprint. The proposal preserves parts of the parking lot’s existing surfaces; reuses and recycles materials found on the hill; incorporates fragments and remnants in the new configurations as well as extends the natural ecosystem by rewilding portion of the area and by introducing local vegetation and a rainwater management system.
Project Team: Alexandra Vougia, Theodossis Issaias, Platon Issaias, Elisavet Hasa, Chrysoula Korovesi
Collaborators: Panos Demiris, Kelly Spanou (architects), Alkimos Papathanasiou (civil engineer), Andreas Zikos (biologist)