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URBAN STRATEGY – Thessaloniki 1997


The selection of Thessaloniki for the cultural capital of Europe 1997, and in particular the subvention of 25 million U.S. dollar, is an important challenge to establish long term development projects for the expansion of the metropolitan space of the city.The organisation for the cultural capital of Europe, Thessaloniki 1997 was founded with the view to undertake the organisation of various events throughout the year. It scope, beyond the organisation of events, to the creation of main infrastructure projects, which will host the cultural events, as well as the planning and implantation of projects which will enhance the historical and cultural physiognomy of the city. Therefore four international architectural competitions were organised The theme of these competitions are the ecological re-establishment and the urban reintegration of the neglected suburbs of the city, accentuation of the city’s long sea front, and the symbolic axis of Aristotelous square and street:


Between sea and city – 8 piers for Thessaloniki- implantation of a new transportation network, water bus connecting the airport and the harbour. The piers will serve as boat terminal, they will give both a new impulse to the currently run-down coastline and also improve the city’s transportation infrastructure. The project fixes the transformation of the coastline into the most efficient space within the urban factory.

Aldo Van Eyck

Finn Geipel

Mario Botta

Alvaro Siza

Wolf Prix

Enric Miralles


Rem Koolhaas


Giancarlo De Carlo.

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Redesign of the waterfront

Development of the waterfront as a site for future urban development, questioning the urban facade of Thessaloniki.

Engel & Zillich, Gregotti Associati international SRL, Toyo Ito & Associates, Manuel de Sola Morales, West 8 architects – A.H. Geuze.


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Redesign of the civic axis.

The project focuses on the reshaping of the city's most important public open space in the city and constitutes the geographical, structural and monumental centre of the city. The centuries old history and existence of Thessaloniki is expressed most explicitly within this axis, which stretches from the hills of the Upper Town to the sea, since within it some of the most important historical monuments of Thessaloniki co-exist with modern central activities, and residential and functional areas of various social groups.

The expected result of the competition is the emphasis on the symbolic and organisational role of the Axis in terms of the city's architecture, aesthetics, monumental wealth and open spaces as well as the support of the various functional uses that have developed within and around the axis in order to promote it into the most important public area in the city.

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Europan: West arc

The program proposed the urban outskirts as its field of exploration, and concerned the creation of communal spaces and the insertion into the urban fabric that had been woven over the last thirty years to the west of the town centre.

Competitors were proposed four sites located on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, collectively known the "West Arc", and accompanied by an outline program. Each had cultural or historic elements, such as a barracks, an old tobacco factory, a cemetery, a convent, woodland or a river, and all followed an axis which linked the citadel to the sea. Proposals had to comprise both an overall urban reflection and a project on one or more sites.

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the four competitions concern the development of the major urban axis extending the reflexion on the metropolitan scale.


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The decision of the Jury and the awards was followed by a special event during which all participating projects were exhibited during a special event, held in june 1998. There was an exhibition of projects, while at the same time prize-winning teams were invited to an open discussion with the participation of architects team, representatives of local and State authorities, experts as well as of the inhabitants of the city so as to give an opportunity to all views to be heard.