1st Prize of Open Architectural Concept Competition
Theoni Xanthi – XZA Architects
Theoni Xanthi (lead architect),
Margarita Zakynthinou Xanthi,
Nikoletta Zakynthinou Xanthi,
URBAN-SPATIAL PLANNING ENGINEER:
TRAFFIC PLANNING ENGINEER:
MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL ENGINEER:
“Architectural Competition of Ideas for the redevelopment of the common area and the wider area of the new KOLONAKI Metro station”
The Kolonaki Square has undergone at least six redesigns throughout its existence, each change narrating a different approach to public space and reflecting the evolution and character of the area.
The search for the principles of design for the redevelopment of the communal space of Kolonaki Square and the wider area, prompted by the new metro station, is approached through two complementary perspectives:
a. that of contemporaneity, aiming for the design to meet contemporary demands for development while simultaneously considering environmental protection, resource economy, and the facilitation of free access and mobility with environmentally friendly materials and means.
b. that of temporality, seeking to highlight and define the identity of Kolonaki Square as an integral part of the genealogy of Athenian urban squares, a primary public space in a central area with high urban life mobility and significant aesthetic, cultural, and artistic importance.
As the square will connect, via the metro, to destinations beyond its traditional borders, determining its urban identity necessitates emphasizing its self-presentation. The uniqueness of its location, where the slopes of Lycabettus meet, the vibrant presence of the northern sidewalks, the topographical relief extending to Herod Atticus Street and the Panathenaic Stadium, led to the adoption of the N-S axis as the central perceptual axis defining the city’s identity.
The square’s formation relies on the major Lycabettus – Ardittos axis. The vistas, visible from the square, serve as orientation points, providing an understanding of the city’s large scale. Simultaneously, the diagonal routes of the nearby E-W axis (Kanari & Kapsali Str.), connecting Kolonaki to the City Centre, the areas of parks, museums, and Ampelokipoi area, are utilized as a second compositional axis of flow, communication, and approach, forming an informal meeting intersection at the centre of the square’s public space. The entrance and exit of the metro are situated on this axis, contributing to the square as a meeting place, interface, passage, and stop, recalling memories of everyday mobility.
The square’s design is influenced by the flowing topography of Lycabettus hill, creating a 5-meter elevation difference. To maintain a unified reference level that traditionally accommodates the urbanity of public life, allowing freedom of movement, activities, and usage changes, the square is divided into two levels. The upper level outlines a semicircular path with a focal point at Koumpari Str., an emblematic point between the hills—an open walk, the belvedere of the square.
The configuration starts with an introductory plateau at the intersection of P. Ioakim and Skoufa Str.. Subsequently, a descent, an extensive stepped formation with theatrical elements, connects the upper level to the lower level of the square. The central space is defined by the intermediate level, bordering smaller side spaces and returning to the initial plateau. The entrance from Skoufa is marked by the busts of the Filikoi and serves as access to the two-stop elevator.
The main structure in the lower level is slightly inclined and, facing south, creates a sunny central square area. The surrounding stepped formation acts as a colonnade, providing a shaded permeable space in the square and at the metro entrance. The perimeter path is enriched and includes seating and waiting areas, hosting functions such as a café on the north side, sanitary facilities, a kiosk, and a flower shop.
The design extends to the lateral pedestrian paths S-E, creating parks, islets, and “planting hillocks” in between, reinforcing the potential for tall vegetation that also serves as a zone for visual/auditory protection. The square’s size accommodates various urban events, whether free-flowing or gatherings, aligning with the mobility of Kolonaki’s society. The intermediate level can host events, with interactive stations (info-points) planned for presenting the area’s history and events.
Special emphasis is placed on bioclimatic and environmental design, both in the reconstruction of the square’s greenery and in water management. Rainwater is collected from the planted islets, absorbent pavements, and directed to the lower level for reuse as an element of cooling and play in the design.
Materials seek a balance between stability and water permeability, utilizing cold materials with good thermal behaviour.
Key urban and traffic regulations include: on the south side, the decongestion of perimeter traffic by pedestrianizing the southern road and transforming the northwest road into a light traffic route; on the north side, widening the sidewalk and proposing a new pedestrian crossing extension on Tsakalof str.