with Marc Armengaud, Steven Melemis, Matthieu Prat & Studio Diese

Unlearn = mobilise? 

Are the weaknesses and ambiguities of the Athens Metropolis also an opportunity to develop innovative urban projects that are not possible elsewhere in Europe? Might the Athenian situation offer an indispensable opportunity to set aside certain conventional means of envisaging the urban project in Europe that have lost their interest?

Kassandras, together with the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais and the Department of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, is hosting three evenings of discussions (8:00, April Tuesday 4 -Thursday 6) around a temporary exhibition of urban design and planning propositions for the Athens Metropolis created over that last six years. A series of walks in the city with local shareholders complete the program.

The week’s events form a important phase in the Unlearning From Athens project which is seeking, through a series of public debates and exhibitions, to define and communicate a number of alternatives for making urban projects in the city.

The ideas that emerge from the week at Kassandras will help prepare an exhibition and public « summit » among Greek and European participants at the Biennale d’Architecture de Lyon in June 28th and July 9th (2017).  


The future development of metropolitan Athens appears stalled by the violent economic crisis currently hitting it. The arrival of migrant people provoked by conflict in the Middle East, combined with those or people having come in previous decades from various other horizons compounds the complexity of the situation. This convergence of crises seems to have neutralized any possibility of making urban projects other than urgent humanitarian aid and monumental projects financed by private foundations. At the same time, effective urban transformations are now more necessary than ever. Pressing needs requiring immediate action need to be associated with strategic reflection about the long term. But how? In a time before big urban projects occur – following privatisations of state assets for example - how can small-scale participative projects durably redefine and consolidate a social and economic fabric? Inversely, how can strategic reflection now help orient large-scale renovation later on? What alternative groups of stakeholders should be involved and on what common ground of co-visibility and discussion? What resources can mobilised today and in the future to create projects that enhance use-value and quality of environment while stimulating various levels of economic activity? Where to find leverage for designing effectively in spite of problematic administrative difficulties, a shortage of funds and other crippling deficiencies ?

“Unlearning from Athens” focuses on a variety of spatial situations in the West of the metropolis of four million people: mainly inactive spaces of former artisanal and industrial production, logistics and railway transport, but also poorer populations formed from waves of immigration over the last half of the previous century. All this in immediate proximity to the historic center, itself largely emptied in recent decades of inhabitants and of its formerly intense artisanal activity.

The project is built around a sequence of public discussions organized in Paris (January 2017), Athens (April 2017 and early 2018) and Lyon (Biennale d’architecture, June-July 2017), involving a broad range of Greek and European stakeholders and informed observers. It reflects the conviction that in order to imagine new, effective forms of urban design, there must be an “unlearning” of much of the conventional know-how on which urban projects are imagined and structured in Europe.

The unlearning is based on an itinerant, evolving exhibition based on over 70 proposals by French and Greek students, produced within architectural workshops and design studios over the last six years that have seen the crises’ effects reach their greatest intensity, and evolve. The intuitions, arguments, terrain observations and forms they sketch out offer material for discussion on the Athens metropolis… and perhaps those of all of Europe faced with the prospects of zero economic growth and of greater cultural diversification. 


Marc Armengaud is a founding member and director of AWP. Marc is responsible for the research and experimental projects at the office, specifically leading curatorial works for exhibitions, publications, lectures and strategic studies. He has directed various interdisciplinary studies focusing on new forms of public spaces, temporary communities and nighttime mobility for the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and for the City on the Move Institute, PSA. Marc serves as a professor in the department City, Architecture and Planning, at the School of Architecture ENSA Paris Malaquais, where he directs studios theory and research, and organizes workshops and interdisciplinary conferences.

Steven Melemis is a Canadian architect and historian of urbanism. He is an Associate Professor at the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais, teaching design studios at the territorial scale as well as the history of city and landscape planning. As a member of the collective BazarUrbain (Grenoble-Paris), he collaborates on planning projects for atypical urban situations requiring specialized methodologies. He is currently co-directing the project «Urban Kairos» which explores the conditions of possibility for making urban projects in the context of the crisis situation affecting the Athens Metropolis.

Founded in 2014, Studio Dièse brings together architects, planners, artists, tinkerers, contortionists, and typographers. Working in a laboratory of undisciplined creation, the members are dedicated to study and action in towns and inhabited territories. The #dièse studio anchors their approach in between alteration and otherness.

Matthieu Prat | Kassandras | Diplomates

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