Sunday, 24 June 2012

A City of Cities

The city of Athens sprawls across the central plain of the Attica Basin.
It is bounded by four large mountains; Mount Aegaleo, Mount Parnitha, Mount Penteli and Mount Hymettus.
The city of Athens is “A City of Cities”.

Ancient Athens is divided into two parts.
One part is “The City”, the other is “The Port City of Pireous”.
“The City” is a walled city consisting two distinct parts; The Upper City and The Lower City.
“The Port City of Pireous” is the other walled city consisting a port near the sea.
The two parts of Ancient Athens were connected by the Long Walls.
In “The City”, The Upper City is represented by the Acropolis, The Lower City is represented by the Agora.
The Acropolis is the greatest architectural artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world, an urbanism of pure forms disposed according to the sun.
The Agora is the living heart, the constant resort of all Athenians.
It did not spring to life on special occasions but was the daily scene of social life, business and politics; the civic centre, market and administration of justice.
In practical and political importance, the Agora constantly gained at the expense of the Acropolis.
Until the end, the Agora became the most vital and distinctive element of “The City”
Together, the Acropolis and the Agora formed a sort of double nucleus.

The city of Athens is divided into two parts.
One part is Ancient Athens, the other is Modern Athens.
Ancient Athens is represented by the Acropolis, the universal symbol of classical spirit and civilization.
The Acropolis is a survival, remembered as a symbol that gave Athenian life its peculiar richness; retention and transformation of archaic survivals.
Modern Athens is a triangle defined by Omonia, Kerameikos, Syntagma.
Omonia, the gateway to Athens for immigrant, is the apex of the triangle.
Kerameikos is an ancient cemetery and pottery quarter.
Syntagma was the ancient Boubounista Gate, then the Palace of the Bavarian king, and now, home to the Greek Parliament.
From the city’s apex, three radial boulevards; Pireous, Stadiau, and Athinas each meet Ermou at its base.
Stadiau and Pireous are the city’s oldest thoroughfares dating back to the construction of Themistoclean wall.
Athinas is the main axis towards the Acropolis, the dividing line between two halves of the triangle. 
Ermou crosses the centre of the city, the dividing line between Ancient and Modern Athens.
Monastraki is where Athinas meets Ermou, an open space with the most stunning view towards the Acropolis and the most picturesque square with the Acropolis as its backdrop.

The Acropolis appears majestically monumental on a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens
The Agora disappears in scattered ruin, buried under the palimpsest of plans, reminiscence of past memories
Modern Athens is represented by a triangle depicting the continuity between Ancient and Modern Athens.
However, contrary to its intention, the Acropolis and the triangle appears as isolated objects with no connections
One enters and exits the triangle in confusion, guided only by glimpses of the Acropolis along the main boulevards and squares
It is everywhere and nowhere, the triangle dissolves in the seamless concrete canvas of six to twelve storeys high
The Acropolis has the city of Athens all at its foothills, this time, without a living heart.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Journey of a Metic and the Observing Athenian

Since ancient history, Athenians believed in their "right of blood". They lived a monocultural society all their life, rejecting contributions from the Metics (resident aliens, slaves, immigrant). MAGNETIZED SPACE is inserted into the centre of Athens as a multicultural strip in a monocultural society where the past and present routes overlapped . The impact is not just social but also holds the potential to transform the multicultural polis from a possibly confused state to one of understanding and new awareness.

This is a story of the journey of a Metic and the observing Athenian. Spanning over a period of 10 years (naturalization), the Metic acquires the qualities needed to be a true Athenian in Magnetized Space within the city fabric both physically and figuratively; skills, fluency in Greek language, understanding of culture and history, and lastly, a Greek name. 


The Metic arrives at The Mountain of Refused. A temple where the Metics are represented in Athens, the architecture is monumentally symbolic, a pure prism plunged into the existing abandoned ATHEX (Athens Stock Exchange) right through the underground where the tip meets the buried ancient routes. This is a place of depository where the Metic deposits an evidence of the skill they came with, in exchange of a silver plate to be used in their next stop.

The Metic continues their journey to The Forest. Countless number of Greek columns rise out of a rectangular plinth where the Great Philosophers of Athenians and Metics stand above them. Feeling completely dwarfed, the Metic etches his aspiration and dream of coming to Athens on his silver plate, then finds a column to nail the silver plate. 

After crossing The Forest, the Metic is received by wardens in the Reception Area in The Cave. This is the one and only formal place where the Metic will be briefed on their indoctrination process for the next 10 years to live in Athens, thenafter either be accepted as an Athenian or moving on to other countries.

From here, the Metic is led to The Marketplace. Consists of 2 main zones; arts and industrial, the Marketplace is assimilated in the existing city fabric. There are two existing warehouses identified as part of The Marketplace, each accommodate one activity. Here, is their home away from home where they discover and sharpens their skills to contribute to Athens. 

The Square is the existing Monastraki Square, a large open space frequented by ordinary people, the Athenians, the Metics and other Strangers to Athens. The open space becomes a platform for a rich cultural tapestry; a multicultural society of tolerance, diversity and continuity in the making. Publicly and privately the Metics speak their own dialects, but officially use Greek language as their medium of communication. The Metic contributes and in return, find himself and his social responsibility in this new place.

10 years of naturalization sees if the Metic is ready to embrace Athens as their new home or to move on to another place. He follows the same route he went through 10 years ago. This time, he bypasses the Mountain of refused, head directly to The Forest. In this same disorientation place, the Metic looks for his silver plate which he nailed to the column. 

He brings it down and head to the Reception Area at The Cave. In addition to the Reception Area in The Cave, there are 2 other underground chambers in which they houses the Ceremony of Acceptance and the Ceremony of Departure. Reflecting upon his silver plate and his 10 years in Athens, he will decide if he wishes to stay or to leave. 

If he wishes to stay, he will undergo the Ceremony of Acceptance where he will be accepted as a true Athenian where he will be given a Greek name at the end of the ceremony. Otherwise, he will undergo the Ceremony of Departure where he will leave Athens to continue contributing somewhere else. The new Athenian will continue to The Marketplace and then, to the Square. At the Marketplace, it is no longer a case of a self discovery, but to look upon the same journey which a Metic undergo as well as a reflection of his own journey. He exits at The Square, were the celebration continues with feast, plays and dances at the open area with the Acropolis as the backdrop. 

The Metic who decides to leave Athens will undergo the Ceremony of Departure where his stay in Athens will be celebrated. He exits at The Cave to Athinas, the main boulevard towards the Acropolis where he will make his last glimpse at the Acropolis before he leaves Athens.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Magnetized Space

Once, the city was divided into two parts, the Athenians and the Metics. In the past, the Metics came with their craft skills. In 2004, they came to build Athens a new village for the Olympic Games. They were brought in to build the nation, however, never accepted as Athenians nor part of Athens.

REFLECTION ON THE IDEAL takes us beyond present Athens into deep historical time. It is the empty heart, a part of Athens’ identity that was never acknowledged. Through the landscape of historical concurrences, this is the journey of both the Athenians and Metics to realise and accept that Athens was and will be built together.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS from where it fell, the abandoned Athens Stock Exchange, now, the Mountain of Refused. It marks the beginning of a Metic’s journey to being an Athenian, passing through Magnetized Space, which reinterprets the qualities of the ancient Agora.

AGORA, its literal meaning of the word is “Gathering place/ Assembly". Centre of the lower town, its natural place is near the Acropolis. Thus the agora and Acropolis formed a sort of double nucleus. In practical and political importance the agora constantly gained at the expense of the Acropolis, until in the end it became the most vital and distinctive element of the city, the living heart. The Acropolis became superfluous, a survival; though must remember that one of the richness things which gave Greek life its peculiar richness was retention and transformation of archaic survivals. It remained essentially a single whole, or at least strongly resisted division. It was the constant resort of all citizens and it did not spring to life on special occasions but was the daily scene of social life (civic centre), commercial (market) and politics (administration of justice).

MAGNETIZED SPACE is the allegory of a magnetic field which will become the new living heart of Athens. With the Acropolis (representing the Athenians) and Mountain of Refused (representing the Metics) on each end, the journey is drawn from the symbology of ritual laced by the symbology of architecture.

MOUNTAIN OF THE REFUSED is represented by a compact depository of Metic’s life story in Athens that have never been documented. Each of these artifacts is in its time directed into the history, present and future. It marks the beginning of a Metic’s journey.

THE FOREST attempts "to completely disorient & dwarf the Metics” between the pillars that rise out of the rectangle plot, below the shades of the great philosophers 1_Pillars take the proportion of the classical Greek order; Doric, Ionic, Corinthian 2_Great philosophers stand tall on the pillars; of both Athenians & Metics  3_Simplified concrete pillars with painted graffiti symbolize present Athens.

THE CAVE comprises of three cavernous voids intended as a screen for alienated reflection to prepare the Metics for the Asylum where they will undergo the legal procedure of becoming an Athenian. Acting on the “subconscious”, from the Forest, a Metic descend into the underground Caves symbolizing the connection between the three realities; the past, present and future.

Monday, 12 March 2012

3_Dimensional Urban Identity


It is a painful irony to see Athens; a city that more than any other has fabricated itself now treats its city as if it has the authenticity and inevitability of changes.
“Imprisoned by its glorious past?”

The Acropolis has Athens all under its foothill. The Olympics 2004 puts Greece into current economic crisis; social riots following economic migration, an abandon city with an empty heart. Koolhaas described “The stronger the identity, the more it imprisons, the more it resists expansion, interpretation, renewal, contradiction,” caused by their historical identity itself.

Reflection on the ideal takes us beyond present Athens into deep historical time. My exploration in this intervention attempts a celebration of the landscape of historical concurrences and transcendent meanings. The intervention begins from where it fell, the abandoned Athens Stock Exchange. The essence will be as different as that of the centuries before us, to present Athens a new 3-dimensional urban identity.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

From Hong Kong to Athens

1. Iconography; the FLAG, BANKNOTE, STAMP
2. HK's Flag
3. HK's Banknote & Stamp
4. ATHENS; the OLYMPIC 2004 Nexus
5. The Olympics
6. Olympics 2004 Commemorative Coins
7. Olympics 2004 Commemorative Stamps
8. ATHENS; Imprisoned by its Glorious Past?
9. ATHENS; Acropolis & Olympics 2004 Effects Consolidated
10. ATHENS; Between Ancient & Modern
11. Modern ATHENS; Triangle Explained
12. Modern ATHENS; Urban Fragments
13. Modern ATHENS; Point of Views- From Ground Level to Elevated Platforms
14. Identity Nexus; From Iconography to Built Environment, HK to Athens
15. HK; Charms of Bridges Street Market (The Site)
16. HK; The City of 3-Dimensional Verticality

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A State of Multiculturalism: Changing Faces of Cities

Multiculturalism is a phenomenon not only present in historical cities but also in the making of many cities today. Rapid globalization seems to be transforming cities at an ever-accelerating speed. What price do we pay if we go too fast? At the price of shedding identity? Imagine an almost Utopian condition but yet the city is unrecognized as multicultural identity relinquished in the face of more mundane considerations. The fundamental question of the state of multiculturalism in today’s context commands our thoughtful attention in these huge waves of development. 

A State of Multiculturalism: Changing Faces of Cities.pdf