Regeneration of Eleftheria Square - Competition


Location: Thessaloniki
Surface: 7000m2
Status: Competition
Year: 2013
Team: Louis Barault, Louiza Polyzogopoulou, Katerina Antoniadou, Karolina Mpourou

The attribution of the historic value of the square through its redesign needs to avoid presumptuous depictions. It shall be a venue for entertainment, stroll, stop, meeting and learning as well as a place for revival of the historical recollection. Every social and age group is bound to find common reference and interest in the square. Bearing in mind the fact that Thessaloniki has always been a mosaic of civilizations and ethnicities, the typical image of a mosaic is used as a design tool. The mosaic consists of an amalgam of mortar and pebbles. Three of the basic ingredients of this urban space, i.e. the vegetation, the water and the historical reminiscence, are engaged as the main marquetry and every significant culture that has left its mark in the city, corresponds to one component pebble of the mosaic. The green and gardening element corresponds to the Christian element, while the pebbles that relate to the revival of the historical memory symbolize the Jewish presence in the city, which is nowadays not apparent. The Ottoman element is represented through the use of water, in three different forms, stagnant, flowing and sprayed. The connecting mortar that symbolizes the urban web of Thessaloniki is materialized through the free movement space that exists in-between the pebbles. The engraving of the mosaic, while at first glance appears random, in fact it is not. By making an explicit reference to David’s star, the symbol of Judaism, and to the strict geometric motifs of the Islamic culture (two of the main religions – components of the mosaic) and by placing the entrances in specific points, a complex linear web is provided as a result, according to which through design abstraction, three categories of pebbles are depicted. The square shall be accessible by all sides through multiple points of entrance at its perimeter, whose exact boundaries are purposively not clear in order for the public space to extend towards the constructional borders of Venizelou and Dragoumi streets and so that the bus terminals area become a part of the extended square. Also, there is a renegotiation of the relationship with the waterfront as three consisting pebbles are situated within or next to the water. In two nodal points on the perimeter of the square two constructions as information condensers, are located. They host a variety of activities and information about the city. The lighting in the wider area is organized in four levels: the horizontal, vertical, signage and recessed lighting.
Mosaic of Cultures The main goal of the design is to transform the square  to a venue for entertainment, stroll, stop, meeting and learning as well as a place of historical recollection. As a design tool is used the typical image of a mosaic which is consisted of three elements: Green-Light-Water that correspond to the three cultures that used to coexist within the city; Christian-Jewish-Ottoman culture. The elements of the mosaic are carefully placed on the square creating a web of new routes that make the space permeable and part of the urban fabric. The web also creates a slopping landscape suggesting new places and opportunities for people to interact and experience the city.