The 1950’s in Greece saw rapid socio-economic changes and urbanization, under such urgency that there was no time for theory or planning. The resulting typology from this urbanization was the Polykatoikia, a five to seven story private block development which forms a relentless datum across the ever expanding city. The Polykatoikia forms walls around streets and urban voids, which are almost exclusively archaeological sites. As a result public and green space is in crisis in Thessaloniki. The premise of the studio aims to densify the center, consolidating the borders of the city while gifting the city with new public park space. Whilst this project doesn’t claim to provide a solution to the Polykatoikia problem, it does seek to ask provocative questions. Can the center of Helexpo decongest itself of desolate buildings and bring a new urban park to the city while simultaneously providing mass housing to residents and dormitories for nearby Aristotle University of Thessaloniki? Can the prototypical separation of housing types, dormitories, single family, studio, one and two bedrooms be combined and benefit from one another’s presence? Can eclectic financial and social demographics exist inside of a coherent and architecturally unified environment?
The project tests ambitious design merged with contextual specificity; engaging with “Greekness” as an expression of democratic design. The Polykatoikia is met with a provocative extension of its type, a new datum for the city of Thessaloniki.