Re-Integrate Votanikos, Athens

Photo: Tasos Roidis

Master's Project Landscape Architecture M 1|2, 12 ECTS, LAO, Prof. Regine Keller + Integrative Discipline, 3 ECTS


By the year 1840 the poet Hans Christian Andersen writes about his trip to Greece: “We were riding in galopp, it was horribly dusty, but it was classical dust. Soon, we arrived in the Olive Grove, Minerva‘s holy grove! A wooden shed was built on both sides of the path. Here, lemon and orange fruits were lain out spread, garnished by a row of bottles containing wine and liquor.”
[*] (Hans Christian Andersen 1842 / 2011)

In 1996, the Votanikos area in Kifissos valley – forming the western border of the city of Athens – looks totally different: “Today, the Olive Grove of Athens, once an area in the western part of the city with more than 300,000 trees, disappeared and fell into oblivion. About 140 old, giant trees, some of them surely about thousand years old, still prove the past beauty of the grove. Where olives were harvested once, exist today small factories and industry.” (Regine Keller, 1996)

Simultaneously with an extremely fast city growth of the region of Athens, Votanikos developed to an area of informal trade and small industry. The famous olive grove – with Plato‘s Academy and the Botanical Gardens embedded – was covered with concrete just as Kifissos river. But how has the cityscape evolved within the last 20 years? Today, this almost fully built up city landscape of Votanikos, fragmented by big infrastructures and city highways, has both, used same as vacant industrial buildings, big waste lands, such as the area of the abandoned large-scale project of new Panathinaikos FC stadium, and some scattered informal settlements. But until today some ruins and relics such as the chapels and churches along the holy Agias Annis street can be found. These are relics from the time before 1930 – when this area was still the rural riverside territory outside of the ‚city gates‘. In 2016, people are housed at least temporarily in the industrial quarter: on an industrial areal in Elaionas, the biggest refugee container camp of Athens was erected.


The chairs of LAREG and LAO – within a joint project platform – draw near at the metropolitan region of Athens, Kifissos valley and it’s city landscape. During a field trip, the project group approaches both the multi-layered pólis of Athens, its public spaces and classical landscapes and rapid urbanization trends, „landscape destroying“ surface sealing and peripheral developments – all having its roots at the beginning of 20th century.

In the master’s project 1/2 at LAO chair, the basis knowledge for the study area of Votanikos and Elaionas same as its role in the city of Athens will be researched, analyzed and documented in both urban, landscape architectural as well as socio-political context. It will be important to investigate which related disciplines (from the fields of sociology, politics, culture, engineering, ...), which actors and processes could and need to be integrated into an urban landscape renovation of Votanikos area. In an integrated landscape architectural design – by using the example of the area surrounding the waste land of formerly planned Panathinaikos stadium in Votanikos – strategies and measures need to be found that could lead to a better urban spatial, socio-economic and environmental integration of this neglected neighborhood into the metropolitan area of Athens-Piraeus.
Key questions for this are how these socio-spatial integration can be designed at different levels (urban/scenically, socio-economically, ethnically, at the level of local politics, ...) and which role public space could have in such a quarter characterized by manufacturing industries and service companies. How much residential and leisure uses can and must be placed here? What role rivers and historic cultural landscape will play in future? Could this commercial district provide a potential space for the integration of migrants and other vulnerable population strata?

Come and make yourself an impression of one of the oldest cities in Europe, the birthplace of democracy, a metropolis of more than five million inhabitants, which has been hit more extreme than other European cities by the financial and refugee crisis and now has to learn and deal with these new circumstances.

Design scales 1: 5,000 to 1: 200
In agreement with the chair the subject of this project can also be followed up within a Master’s Thesis.

Course Introduction: Mo 17.10.2016, 15:30h, O5

Expedition to Athens with Workshop: 09.11. - 16.11.2016 (Arrival / Departure Day)
Flights and Accommodation (Hostels / AirBnB) need to be organized by the students themselves; regularly inscribed TUM students will receive a financial support of 30€ per day via a DAAD PROMOS scholarship; more informations will follow.

Project Application

10 Students. Application ONLY via TUMonline:
LV0000000979 (Project I Landschaftsarchitektur)
bzw. LV240640412 (Project II Landschaftsarchitektur)
Mandatory application until Thu. 20.10.2016, 10:00h.

Fixed Dates

Tutoring on Thursdays from 13:30h.
For more dates and dues see TUMonline.

[*] H. C. Andersen: Griechenland und der Orient. Eine märchenhafte Reise, Athen 2011 (Verlag der Griechenland Zeitung)

Status as of: 19.09.2016