The River & The Highway: Infrastructures of Leisure
Diploma project at the Department of Architecture, University of Patras (2017)
Architects: Klelia Siska
Supervisor Professor: Panos Dragonas
The thesis investigates the last 2.5km of Kifissos river in the southern suburbs of Athens, GR until its delta in the Saronic Gulf. In preparation for the 2004 Olympics, an elevated highway was built over the Kifissos River, as well as a tidal creek where the river meets the sea. Years later, this infrastructural axis remains in decay, looking like a brutalist thriller.
The project aims to identify the dual nature of Kifissos (river + highway) and to merge it with an additional leisure program. The 2.5 km are divided into 4 zones (the industries, the neighborhood, the infrastructure and the waterfront), each time proposing new forms of infrastructure for cars and pedestrians and unexpected leisure activities in severely degraded landscape.
This thesis studies the last 2.5km of the Kifissos River, from its confluence with Piraeus Street to its mouth at the bay of Falirikos. Kifissos highway was built over the river to connect Athens to Falirikos Bay for the needs of the 2004 Olympic Games. In addition to the highway, the Olympic works included the construction of the ramp at the junction of Kifissos Avenue and Poseidonos Street, as well as the flood protection project of the Kifissos estuary to the sea. Thus, Kifissos was defined as an axis of infrastructure and automobile traffic, further reinforcing the hard border between the city and the coast.
The study area is divided into 4 zones based on the existing program and the relationship of the Kifissos River with the urban fabric:
a. the zone of industrial and commercial buildings at the confluence of Kifissos with Piraeus and the lines of the train
b. the zone of the “Athenian Neighborhood” of the Municipalities of N.Faliro and Moschato with the dense network of residential buildings on both sides of the Kifissos River
c. the infrastructure and network zone with the ring road at the junction of Kifissos Avenue and Poseidonos Avenue, where the river is underground
d. the coastal zone with the flood protection project of the Kifissos estuary.
The Kifissos is read through its dual identity: the Kifissos as infrastructure (highway) and the Kifissos as a natural element (water). The proposed program responds to this duality through 4 interventions (one for each zone) that are both infrastructure and recreational areas. The highway-related interventions combine parking and greenery in the form of botanical gardens, while the water-related interventions address pedestrian movement and multiple recreational programs.
a. The Station Plaza:
In the first zone, a new station is proposed under the highway. A covered plaza is designed with underground parking and two greenhouses through which vertical circulation occurs.
In addition to being an access and circulation point, the square functions as a reservoir for urban activities (open-air markets, concerts, exhibitions), adjacent to two important industrial heritage buildings.
b. The Leisure Nodes:
The 3 existing pedestrian bridges connecting the communities of N. Faliro and Moschatos under the highway and over the river are redesigned as pedestrian and bicycle nodes with an additional leisure program. The 3 bridges are transformed into a club, a swimming pool platform and a cinema.
c. The Tropical Parking:
The remaining space inside the ring, currently used as an outdoor parking area for the SEF Stadium, is converted into a closed building with several parking levels, inside which is a botanical garden with a public entrance at street level, housing 3 greenhouses and additional study spaces for agronomy (library, exhibition hall, etc.). The high irrigation needs of the greenhouses are met by the Kifissos River itself, which returns to the surface as a water reservoir.
d. The Aquatic Promenade:
The hydraulic works of the Kifissos estuary is transformed beyond an infrastructure project, into a covered linear promenade with transversal platforms for recreational programs: infrastructure and fish farming workshops, restaurant & fish market, diving school & natural swimming pools. At the end of the project, the canopy is transformed into an accessible sunbathing and diving platform in the waters of the Saronic Gulf.
The thesis envisions the transformation of the decaying infrastructure axis of Kifissos from a “brutalist thriller” to a place of unexpected recreational and entertainment spaces with a supra-local character.