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Athens shows a retrospective exhibition on the Prize

Athens (Greece): 18/02/2014 - 10/03/2014, Arsakeion Arcade
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The exhibition, consisting of the thirteen prize-winning works from the first seven awards of the Prize, is part of a larger show which will be open to the public in the old Arsakeion Arcade in the centre of Athens from 18 February to 10 March.
From 18 February to 10 March this year Athens will be hosting a retrospective exhibition consisting of the thirteen prize-winning works from the first seven awards of the European Prize for Urban Public Space (2000 – 2012). Examples of good practice in public space design from Mollet del Vallès, Dublin, Zuera, Leipzig, Teruel, Begues, Zaanstadt, Zadar, London, Magdeburg, Oslo, Ljubljana, and Barcelona will be on display in the Arsakeion Arcade in the centre of Athens as part of a larger exhibition, “Rethink Athens: Towards a New City Centre”. Organised by the Onassis Foundation – a private non-profit-making entity – together with several public institutions including the Athens City Council and several ministries of the Greek government, the exhibition as a whole occupies nineteen vacant retail shops in the arcade which, despite its privileged location on Panepistimiou Street has been closed owing to the economic crisis of recent years and the progressive neglect of the city centre.

The aim of the exhibition is to make known a plan to restructure the urban zone around Panepistimiou Street, which connects Syntagma Square, the nerve centre of the city, with Omonia Square more than one kilometre to the north. The aim is to transform the whole sector, which is presently overrun by traffic, into a zone of mixed circulation of pedestrians, bicycles, trams and public transport vehicles. Besides refurbishing this key area, the plan also includes renovation of Omonia Square, the planting of eight hundred new trees, an extension to the tramline, and underground rainwater tanks for watering trees and plants and cleaning the streets. The plan is the result of a request made by the Greek government to the Onassis Foundation, whereby the latter was asked to organise and finance an international European Architectural Competition in 2012 as a means of gathering ideas for the project. The competition was won by the Dutch architects OKRA whose project, which is not exempt of controversy because of its impact on traffic in Athens and its gentrifying effects, starts out from the hypothesis that creating a green city centre that is more welcoming for pedestrians will contribute towards reviving economic and social life in the zone. It is the will of the Prize exhibition that its thirteen examples enrich and illustrate this debate.

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