An urban initiative for the vacant storefronts of Athens.

While most of the cities in the world lack space, the city of Athens, an urban context severely hit by the financial crisis, has 30% of its building reserve empty. The city’s ground-floor network, once the steaming engine of its urban welfare, has now become a redundant landscape of empty pocket spaces. Within this pragmatic context of decay, Traces Of Commerce is organized as an initiative aiming to bring back to a state of activity a vacant public space of Athens, Stoa Emporon (Arcade of Merchants). A dead zone in the heart of Athens city center which remained stagnant, with its small shops empty of any commercial activities for more than a decade. The vision of the initiative is the re-birth of this symbolic public space through the establishment of a productive platform with interdisciplinary synergies that opens up to the city.

Traces Of Commerce initiative first begun in May 2014 hosting twelve diverse creative collaborations who experimented on the dipole theme “old-new commerce” generating an environment of participatory activities with the engagement of local community agents into open collaborative workshops. The program launched its 2nd phase in December 2014 Under the UmbrellaNew Creative Cells Of Exchange“. Following an open call for proposals, 10 shops of Stoa Emporon were assigned for free to creative start-ups and small entrepreneurial collaborations who transform the ground level of the Social Security Fund for the Merchants building into a transparent laboratory of creativity.

Haris Biskos was born in Athens and studied architecture at the University of Patras, Greece (Diploma of Architecture, 2006) and the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University (Master in Architecture, 2009). He was a member of Yannis Aesopos Architecture in Athens (2005-08), Barkow Leibinger Architects in Berlin (2009) and Hosoya Schaefer Architects in Zurich (2009-11). In 2012 he established his architectural office in Athens working on projects for architecture, urban design, masterplanning, urban research and publications. He has taught in international architectural workshops and studios with schools such as Princeton University, University of Patras, Bezalel Art Academy and he has been an invited critic at the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich, Architektur TU Berlin and Columbia University.

Martha Giannakopoulou graduated from the Architectural Association in London in 2001, and was awarded the The William Glover award for her diploma thesis. She worked as an urban designer for Ove Arup UK until she founded her practice in 2003 with Annika Grafweg and Seki Hirano IF-[ untitled ] architects, a London-Athens based architectural studio. The studio’s work encompasses a broad spectrum of cultural and social contexts on architectural projects as well as international development projects in countries such as UK, Greece, Japan, India, Indonesia, Zambia and Rwanda. Works have been shortlisted in 2010 and 2011 for the YAYA (Young Architect of the Year) Award in the UK, exhibited at the 6th Biennale of Young Greek Architects in 2010 and 2012, and published in various Greek and European magazines. Martha Giannakopoulou has been a visiting critic at the Architectural Association, London Met, East London, Columbia University, Parsons and The Cooper Union. She has also lectured on collaboration, community design and urban sustainability in various architectural and humanitarian conferences in Athens and London. In 2012 she was awarded the Fulbright scholarship, and worked as researcher and critic at the Cooper Union Institute of Sustainable Design for the Sustain Rockefeller Innovation Grant and taught the Feltman Seminar in collaboration with Lydia Kallipoliti.

Clelia Thermou is an architect (DipArch AUTH, 2008) and holds a master’s degree in Urban Design from The Bartlett School of Architecture (March UD UCL, 2009). Since 2009 she works in firms and nonprofits in Athens, participating in architectural projects and EU funded programs, preparing EU funding proposals (fp7) and dealing with different communities and organizations. Clelia is co-founder of Urban3 studio and she is involved in design and research projects, national and international competitions. She has collaborated in various projects with universities, nonprofits and other design firms such as the Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at the ETH Zürich, Urban-Think Tank, “School of Architecture for All” (Sarcha), NEAR architecture and mab architects.



Municipality of Athens, Athens Development and Destination Management Agency ADDMA, Social Security Organization OAEE (collaborators), A.T. Management (project management), Helias Dagas, Anna Mastori, Mariza Kapsali (production Assistants), Konstantinos Stamatopoulos (Graphic Design and Web Development), Stathis Mamalakis, Babis Giannikakis, Dimitris Mitropoulos (photography), Daphne Farazi, Oliwia Te, Babis Giannikakis, Sergios Kotsovoulos (Sergio Ko), Beforelight (video footage), Mihalis Boussounis, Erin Boussounis (video editing)