Aigaleon 639 is a participatory design strategy that aims to galvanize the interest of city residents by provoking a dialogue about public space. Within the context of the community project Aigaleo City, our project focuses on social housing units in the 639 block of a disadvantaged neighborhood West of Athens center. Built in 1963, the complex consists of four, three-storey buildings surrounding an open courtyard in the middle. This small, inward-looking microcosm is home to a lively community of people nestled within the urban fabric. The scale, position and residential qualities of the complex render it as an attractive housing typology deriving from the Modern movement, despite its current dilapidated state.

Through numerous interviews and informal discussions with residents, the project gives prominence to existing features of the urban typology at the same time that it explores the potential to enhance the quality of communal space through user participation. Residents were challenged to consider specific needs and articulate their ideas in a way that produced a highly social version of the design process. In the subsequent outdoor workshop, conducted within the space of the central courtyard, residents and individuals from the broader community were invited to formulate their own version of public space by moving and assembling elements of a large, scale-model. The resulting interactive discourse acted as both process and product, bridging the divide between ideas and material reality so evident in the climate of “crisis”. At the same time, the architect’s role as “design diplomat” questioned the traditional categories of client, author, project and research.

“Aigaleon 639″ was commissioned by locus athens (Maria Thalia Carras, Olga Hatzidaki), curators for the community project Aigaleo City.

Supported by NEON
Supported by Aigaleon Municipality.

AREA (Architecture Research Athens) is a professional design practice established in 2006 by architects Styliani Daouti, Giorgos Mitroulias and Michaeljohn Raftopoulos. Combining studies and professional experience in Greece, France, the Netherlands and the U.S.A., with a common meeting point in New York, they returned to Athens in order to contribute to the dynamic developments of the Greek architectural landscape. Their experience teaching at universities in Greece and Cyprus is complemented by numerous awards in national and international architectural competitions. In 2012, AREA was chosen as one of the up-and-coming architecture offices to represent Greece in the exhibition Made in Athens, at the Venice Biennale Greek Pavilion, through an installation of the awarded urban design proposal “Athens Charting“. The project addressed the revitalization of disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the centre of Athens through a “chart of actions” that offers the possibility of flexible and gradual improvements to public space over time. In 2014, AREA was distinguished in the European “Europan” competition for the design of an urban housing block in Nuremberg, Germany.