Building common(s) by building walls
New urban scenario for the Victoria area in Athens. With solidarity and mutual respect, supported by the formal borders, the project speculates on sharing the city as a public second home. Using walls to re-establish the sense of common(s) within the contemporary city of Athens.
The permanent state of crisis, within the area of Victoria, Athens, causes a constant feeling of abandonment for its citizens. Whereas the empty apartments at polykatoikias do not announce themselves publicly, visually vacant plots affect the image of the city and have a direct influence on its inhabitants. The visual vacancy map pictures the clearly vacant spots in the urban fabric, in other words, “the spatial pattern of the crisis” (N. Belavilas, P. Prentou, Athens social atlas, Dec 2015). Questioning the notion of “vacancy”, there might contradictory visions appear. Despite seeing it as abandonness and urban decay, one may find it potential and full of prospective and open possibilities. This provokes the re-thinking of normals and finding new approaches.
Whilst the citizens of Athens are not using the spaces of their balconies, terraces, and courtyards, they still have the necessity to gather in public spaces, no matter the reason.
Space in Athens exists between the state, the city and the residents, and the border between formal and informal is sometimes hard to establish. Changing existing urban policies for the open use of the temporally vacant plots would mean empowering Athens through public gatherings and informal initiatives. “The understanding of common(s) as a new kind of (urban) space that is outside the dichotomy of public and private” (Merve Bedir) is a hope for resistance of disadvantaged communities and general public in rising up to protect a matter of public interest in order reclaim their rightful place as owners of the city.
Currently, the area of Victoria is inhabited by multinational and diverse social groups. The overall atmosphere is quite tense. The project strongly believes that reclaiming the borders would cause healthier community relations. Instead of creating an illusion, an image of an “ideal” society, the project advocates that it is better to show tolerance towards all the members of the society. With such a simple tool as a wall, it is possible to establish meeting places whilst living one's own life privately. The element of the wall would allow for any kind of neighboring, whilst openings in the walls would be invitations and regulators of relations. With solidarity and mutual respect, supported by the formal borders, it the project speculates on sharing the city as a public second home. The walls would allow to re-establish the sense of common(s) within the contemporary city of Athens.