Threshold: Designing on the edge’’
The architectural proposal for the expansion of Τhessaloniki’s old waterfront has its starting point on the specific topography of the metropolitan area of the city: the contradiction between urban and natural landscape, the rigid grid of the historical center with its multicultural history and the fluidity of the sea. The site is perceived as a space placed on the edge, on the limit between urban and natural, land and sea, being a vivid part of the city’s memory.
Thessaloniki is placed and expanded in-between two natural limits: the “Thermaikos” gulf, a natural harbor with major importance for the economy of the Balkan peninsula and the hills of “Seih Su” with the upper historic town. The city’s history and culture is extensively connected with the sea. Since the early Hellenistic period, to the byzantine and roman ages till the 20th and 21st century, Thessaloniki has been the crossroad for many different cultures which passed through or inhabited the city creating a unique mosaic of ethnicities, customs and forming its profound architectural heritage. Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, Jewish markets and synagogues, Muslim baths, 20th century’s villas are some of the examples of this heritage which remain vivid pieces of memory for the city.
The proposal is based on the expansion of the old waterfront in three construction phases: The first phase consists of the expansion of the existing promenade about two to five meters towards the sea, maintaining the same walking level. At the second phase, a lower expansion of the promenade from two to five meters more is added in order to create a zone of relaxation and entertainment. The third and final stage consists of the addition of platforms, perceived as “memory elements” of the city’s history. These pieces “emerge” from the sea level and are being placed on the edge of the new expansion. Their objective is host the social program of the waterfront such as gatherings and street performances. Moreover, they can be perceived as boarding decks for small boats and water taxi or simply as view plateaus towards different landmarks on the horizon of the gulf like Mount Olympus.
The linear expanded waterfront is based on fluid geometries which guide the visitor towards different points of view, creating interesting patterns of movements on the floor. The avoidance of a strictly linear walkway breaks the monotonous continuity of the project, creating smaller spaces for social gathering or rest areas protected from the sun radiation. Seating areas, pergolas and vegetation complete the architectural design.
In conclusion, the proposal aims to introduce a new walkway on the existing promenade, respecting its past and at the same time introducing a new point of reference for the metropolitan area of Thessaloniki. Social and cultural events, mosaic platforms and shading areas of relaxation summarize the future image of the historic waterfront.
DesignTeam: Dimitris Stefanakis, M.Arch Architect Engineer – Studio 99, Thanos Mousmoulidis, M.Arch Architect Engineer – MID STUDIO, Artemis Papakosta, M.Arch Architect Engineer
Structural Design: Dimitris Skordas, Civil Engineer
Consultants: Interform S.A, Design consultancy, Plaisio S.A, Structural consultancy