4 Unusual Urban Transformations Found in Athens

Written by The Heloni Team | June 11, 2020

Time will always bring change and new ideas, new needs, and new aspirations will always come with it. Transforming and re-adapting a room, a building or an urban space is an endless journey of discovery and rediscovery whether it is for the user, the neighbor, the designer, the politician, or the developer. Here are just a couple of the many re-use projects of the city of Athens which have attracted our attention. We hope they will attract yours too.

Fertilizer factory to park: Lipasmata of Drapetsona:

Drapetsona is a district located 1.5km from the Piraeus city center and 10km from Athens city center. Since the 19th century, the district has become a significant industrial area for the Port of Piraeus, especially for port facilities like shipyards but consequently, other industries grew like a fertilizer factory, a plaster factory, and a cement factory. Now there are plans for redeveloping 64 hectares of the Drapetsona seafront for culture, tourism, and sea sports faculties. For the last couple of years, the premises of a fertilizer factory have been turned into a park with an outdoor stage for events.

This summer a yearly festival took place (Festival by the Sea 2018) hosting numerous concerts and theatrical productions for free. The park overlooks the port and the sea and you can count all the large cruisers coming into the port and watch an eery sunset behind the container and cranes. There is also loads of open space here, perfect for playing with kids, cycling, skating, or even flying kites and playing basketball. The districts are of Piraeus have always lacked open public space as well as green parks so this redevelopment will be an urban life-changer for many of its nearby residents.

University to Cinema: Irida

Irida is a University Cinema Club and Cultural Association for the students of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens however it is open to all visitors. The aim of the club is to promote cinematographic education by fostering a network of enthusiasm, knowledge, connectivity, and technological expertise and support. The club organizes seminars, workshops, and film screenings for free. The room of Irida is old and will transport you to a bygone era which is enchanting in its own way, especially when paired with a movie from another time. The movies are interesting and have often something to do with the seminars which will ignite interesting discussions. You can check out the weekly schedule here.

Gas factory to an art space: Technopolis

Technopolis is an a major multipurpose cultural center in Athens found in the district of Gazi. The district name actually comes from the former occupant of Technopolis, which was a large 30.000 m2 gasworks factory. The gas factory was founded in 1857 and due to the emergence of new technologies, it was shut down in 1984 and in 1999 it was converted into one of the largest cultural and educational centers in the city using the principles of authenticity and utility. The large grounds house workshops, exhibitions, seminars, music concerts, and other cultural activities throughout the year. The first transformation was a bold industrial museum with a fascinating architectural presence in the complex. Technopolis not only helped in upgrading the historic Athens district but also helped create a new sense of cultural identity and cultivated a new interest in the arts. We can even say that the mission of Technopolis today as a modern factory of culture is to protect and generate art.

Train to Theatre: To Treno tou Rouf

The Treno tou Rouf is an old train in a train station that was re-adapted to a cultural theater space where theatrical plays, musical performances, lectures, and art exhibitions/installations take place in their refurbished wagons. Each wagon has its one little piece of history crystallized in its interiors, whether is it the romantic stories of the Orient Express, the hoof-prints of Second World War horses, or the espresso stains from a 1950s Italian passenger wagon, each wagon will be able to take you on a unique journey of taste and culture. Start a culinary experience in the Restaurant Wagon with a selection of very good cold and warm dishes, move on to the Music Wagon or Theatre Wagon where musical/theatrical performances, a light drink, and a special night await you. The Wagon Bar is next when you realize it will not be an early night while sharing a drink with the artists of the shows. There is also an open-air bar-restaurant called Apovathra for the warm summer nights.