Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day Three AND Day Four June 10th and June 11th 2009

Day Three Lectures by Yiannis Aespos on Athens architecture in the 21st century and M. Christine Boyer on Mapping Cities [see powerpoint below]
Studio work and Site Visits

Day Four Lectures Petros Babsikas on Mapping, Yannis Pyrgiotis on post-Olympic Games

Afternoon Lecture: Day 4 Thursday June 11th
Lecture by Yannis Pyrgiotis, Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee
Post-Olympic Athens: Yannis Pyrigiots, an influential member of the Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee, explained to us that for every host city, the Olympic games present opportunities to acquire sporting infrastructures, to improve transport infrastructure; to enhance the urban environment, to change and promote its image. The power of transformation is far-reaching, greater than any planning policies. Yet tremendous expenditures are sunk into fixed investments with uncertain benefits in the future. Athens before the games was receiving an insufficient percentage of development investment monies. For a city growing so fast, this was unique and placed the city close to being a third world city. Inertia eroded the competitiveness and quality of life in Athens. It appeared impossible for public investment improvements to catch up with the need caused by such long neglect. Therefore the Olympics changed the major investment policies without political blockage, which after the games, slid backwards to a low percentage and allowed politics to allocate a smaller share of the investment pie to Athens. Nevertheless the multiplier effect in a city such as Athens or Beijing is far greater than say a city such as Atlanta or London.
Athens’ fragmented administrative systems, a large number of local authorities and overlapping responsibilities, had led to an inability to conceive and implement any area-wide strategy. [for example, waste treatment facilities are blocked by local administrations – what we call NIMBY [not in my back yard] protests in USA. ]
In discussing the Phaleron Coastal Zone, Pyrgriotic described that before the sports complex started in 2002 complaints were made by environmental groups that the Olympics was destroying beautiful eco-environments. In reality, trash and, two rivers/ steams dumped waste into the zone, the site selected was in fact a dumb site and no-man’s land. The Olympics transformed the Phaleron Coastal Zone although some of the area is empty awaiting new uses and investment. Keeping these areas empty while looking for investors, not enforcing a developer’s obligation with respect to maintenance, or listening too often to local complaints, has meant that is often impossible to maintain the green open areas. Compared to Barcelona’s waterfront success story, post-Olympic Athens’ coastal zone is less successful. Barcelona had plans for the future of the city for after the games, Athens had none, no idea for later usage of Olympic venues and for maintaining the image of the city.

Cinema Projection: From the Edge of the City (dir. Constantinos Yannaris)

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