The project “SynOikia” consists of participatory interventions urban landscape development in order for the citizens to relook at the way they experience their city. Forsaken, derelict or disfavored parts of a town are chosen to be transformed with facilities that contribute to the aesthetic or operational quality of the area. The main emphasis here is that the process of transforming those areas happens through the keen participation of the residents combined with the collaboration of a creative community of public and private bodies. In November 2012, the organizing team of Imagine The City carried out the first SYNOIKIA project in Pittaki Str. in downtown Athens. The project was realized with the support of the Municipality of Athens, while Coca-Cola was the golden sponsor of the project, as part of their campaign Reasons to Believe (www.reasonstobelieve.gr) and the team of artistic lighting BEFORELIGHT was the main partner. Residents and creative minds of the city responded positively to the invitation and contributed dozens of table and floor lamps, shades, ceiling lights and more decorative lighting material of contemporary, traditional and funky style, in order to lighten up a disfavored street in the center of Athens. Pittaki Str., a perpendicular street to Ermou Str. and a few steps away from the centrally located Monastiraki metro station, hosts the collective lighting installation for almost a year now, a period through which a series of additional cultural events have also taken place, “transfering” us to familiar and personal places. The installation was introduced to the public on November 30th 2012 and it has since then been recognized as a new landmark of the area, attracting every night a large number of Athenians and visitors of the city and becoming a cultural hub in downtown Athens.
Why Pittaki Street?
Our projects and decisions for action within the cities are often restricted by unfavorable factors, such as depopulation and limited lighting sources. At the same time, our capabilities for creative and substantial contribution are also restricted by the lack of the participation of the citizens and of their collaboration with the public authorities. The more we are limited to positively intervene, the more depopulated cities become – citizens become unable to perceive their area as a familiar place for them and the undesirable results become more intense. Pittaki Str. is a paved street and marks the entrance of the wider district of Psyrri. In spite of the full visual contact with the very busy Ermou Str., the mobility of the residents and the visitors of the center of Athens gradually decreases. The surrounding streets consist of a combination of residential and commercial buildings of small companies and traditional trading houses, which steadily shrinks. This area shapes the original and consistent identity of a long-established Athenian district, which links Psyrri with the neighborhoods of Monastiraki, Thisio and Plaka. The existence of workshops and antiquaries with old lighting appliances and furniture in this area triggered the development of the project SYNOIKIA on Pittaki Str., as a challenge and a small-scale attempt for urban regeneration.