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Re - defining the Athenian Polykatoikia

Type: Residential I Research

Design: Panagiotis Papanikolaou    

Location: Athens    

Year: 2021 

The financial and social circumstances of the past decades led to the rapid urbanization of Athens, that was mostly expressed through the typology of the Athenian polykatoikia (apartment building). The polykatoikia typology managed to provide solutions for several of the financial and social issues of that period, but it seems, that apart from some exceptions, it failed to adjust to the Mediterranean climate and way of life, often ignoring better integrated typologies, such as the old Athenian houses that revolved around the courtyard.

The courtyard has been the core of the Athenian dwelling through the centuries. During the second half of the 20th century, with polykatoikia being the predominant typology of the Athenian urban fabric, the city scale changed and the focus of housing was mostly shifted towards the provision of modern luxuries, that older houses were unable to provide, often ignoring the way of life that courtyard houses could offer.

Taking into consideration the existing city scale and the need for vertical development, this project redefines the Athenian polykatoikia, by setting the courtyard and the enjoyment of the Mediterranean climate as the core of dwelling.

The proposed apartment building is developed in a small urban void, in Dimofontos street in Ano Petralona and is a contemporary redefinition of the polykatoikia typology, with references to both the Athenian courtyard houses and the modernist apartment buildings of the past decades. This specific urban void was selected because of its small size and the intense level differences of the neighbouring buildings that the proposal attempts to bridge, offer a challenging architectural environment.

One of the main parameters of the design, is that every apartment is independent and that it revolves around the exterior space, referring to the old Athenian courtyard houses of the previous centuries. In addition, the level changes and the sense of levitation ensure the optical independency of each residence, while the connection with the city’s modernist past is achieved through morphological and color references.

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