ELEFTHERIAS SQUARE

 

The proposal pertains to the design of Plateia Eleftherias in the historic center of Thessaloniki, a large open space of 100 x 115 m on the waterfront. A special identity was sought for to respond to the issues raised by the locale: on one hand, the adjacency to the port and to the commercial centre, on the other the symbolism assigned to the space due to the event of the gathering of the Jewish population before their deportation to WWII concentration camps.

The main idea was the creation of an “oasis”, indirectly detached from its surroundings, a locus amoenus as described by literary scholars referring to a pleasant, green, remote garden, “an idealized place of comfort, a refuge”.

The part of Plateia Eleftherias that faces the sea emerges slightly from the ground (1 meter) in the shape of a wedge. It is enwrapped with concrete paving blocks, spaced apart in a rhythmical pattern, to allow grass to grow. The turfy surface is further supplemented by 36 linden trees on a grid of 9.60 m. Together with the existing tall plane trees around the perimeter of the space, the concrete seats and the dispersed fountains, the area constitutes an idyllic elevated landscape in which the Holocaust Memorial is placed.

Approaching the urban cityscape and the enhanced activities of the bus terminal to the north of the site, the green surface denatures into a hard concrete ground, in level with the surrounding streets, accommodating pedestrian and bicycle traffic crossing the area, and allowing for a variety of events to take place. A broad, linear, light canopy structure, a white shiny surface, hovers over information kiosks, a ticket booth, constructions containing interactive monitors, a canteen and various urban elements. The existing plane tree trunks penetrate the canopy and, together with the structural columns, filter the city life into the serenity of the waterfront garden.

 

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