Regaining public space in modern Greece

The case of Chania

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Taking into consideration that ancient Greece is highly correlated to the democratic public space, the aim of the present thesis is to regain public space in modern Greece, by having as a testing location a medium-sized city, Chania. Public space was an important part of Greek people’s lives in the different chronological periods of its history. Starting from antiquity, the ancient agora and the Greek polis were considered as prototypes of democratic public spaces. In more modern years though, the relationship between Greek people and public space was gradually lost, leading to the present-day function of the Greek public spaces. Nowadays, most Greek people spend their free time in cafeterias and bars, neglecting so public spaces, such as squares, parks etc. Even though it is undeniable that cafeterias play an important role in the sociability, liveability and the economic vitality of an area, the way they function in Greece leads to the extreme privatization of public space due to coffee tables, the absence of people in areas where there are no cafes or the occupation of the empty public spaces by marginalized groups. Hence, the present thesis is dealing with the problematic use and the poor quality of public space in the Greek context, and especially in the city of Chania, as a case study. Many of the public spaces are extreme privatized, causing problems of accessibility and walkability, while others are not used at all or used by specific social groups developing urban voids or ghettos in the city. This existing defective Greek reality results in social exclusion and poor social interaction among different demographics, questioning the serving of needs of the different users. Taking into consideration the above-mentioned problem statement and the results by the different research methods used, it is concluded that the enhancement of sense of security, social interaction and inclusion are the main goals to be achieved in the project. Since these three concepts are more social than spatial related, design patterns are used as a method for their translation into space and urban environment. Moreover, they function as a bridge between research and design. In the end, to avoid generic solutions the definition of the patterns is a forth and backwards procedure between research and design.