HYDRA CITIES: Athens, Greece
Summer Study Abroad Seminar Summer 2010
Instructors: Nataly Gattegno [eLAB] + Jason K.Johnson [MLAB]
Athens, Istanbul, Beirut, Alexandria, Venice, Barcelona; these Eastern Mediterranean port cities, linked by both culture and water, are often used for the study of historic urban artifacts. They have seldom been explored as contemporary cities facing extreme global environmental changes in addition to the infrastructural, political and economic challenges that will have an immense impact on shaping their architectural futures. The historic trade connections these cities share suggest an alternate re-centering of contemporary European architecture – further East and back to the waters of the Mediterranean. They describe an architecture steeped in a history of diverse cultures simultaneously located in hyper-dense, urban, water-bound environments. Similar to many cities along the California coast, these cities are continually growing away from their water’s edge while dealing with the emergent ecologies, infrastructural and environmental needs of that growth.
The studio introduced students to this alternate hyper-dense Mediterranean urbanism by exploring and using the city of Athens, Greece as its laboratory. Students traveled to Athens for three weeks. They explored the classical and modern city and worked with a range of cartographic and data-based methods for visualizing urban and environmental systems. Students developed an analytical database for understanding the intertwined cultural, political, technological and geographical histories and the ways these have shaped their architectural and urban development. These explorations culminated in the speculative design of a Port Machine: a performative instrument engaging the threshold between land and sea.
Hydra Cities studied and explored Athens – both classical and modern. The seminar had a dedicated work space in downtown Athens to research and work in. Though Athens was our base camp, we visited a number of sites beyond the city limits to further understand the relationship of human settlement and urban growth relative to water.
CCA Summer Study Abroad Programs link here.