Author: Emma O Neill
Instructors: Jason O Shaughnessy- Eve Olney- Eoin French
Cork Centre for Architectural Education -UCC/CIT – Ireland
The architectural thesis concerns itself with the overly-monitored tourist industry of Athens, where it is argued that current policy suspends the decay of historical sites, whilst paradoxically, the remainder of the city deteriorates. It is argued that the overt emphasis on these historical sites – particularly the Acropolis – could be understood as an attempt to present an idealized and Classical Athens, and an attempt to revive a depressed economy. The thesis seeks to reclaim material and touristic authenticity, and was evolved by developing understandings of the geological (the Athenian Schist) and anastyloic suspension of the Acropolis – as well as its aestheticization– particularly through visually oppressive and culturally deceptive legislation imposed by the Ministry of Culture from 2004. In doing so, it forms a series of new architectural and spatial interruptions or “slip spaces”, and a series of new city-wide experiences in the guise of a new architectural tour- The Glitchers Guide to Athens.
The project consists of four new programs situated between The Acropolis and Lykabettus Hill, which are established by a visually constructed middle-ground between the hills and the city below. It attempts to reduce the topographical imperative and visual dominance of the four hills of Athens – preferring instead to allow the tourist to drift in an imagined surrealist-like series of spaces, and where they constantly question the physicality of their environment. The programs formed critically question the curatorial limits suggested by the Ministry of Culture in personal correspondence, and consist of The Aleppo House of Disgraced Artifacts on Philopappus Hill, The Corporeal Carnival, The Castaway Depot, The Dispersed Craft Market. These programmatic elements attempt to encourage activities that are prohibited, and that seek to address the overt mediation of the city. In doing so, it suggests the development of new architectural formations that are capable of opening up, rather than limiting, the interpretations of a national identity, whilst establishing architectural-city-body spaces that are once again interpretative, immersive, and suggestive.