This map shows the focus area of the Spring 2020 design studio of the Chair of Architecture & Urban Transformation – what we call NEWROPE – which centered around the port of Piraeus and surrounding areas along the Greek coast. As the historic port of Athens, and one of the main passenger and cargo hubs in the Mediterranean, Piraeus forms the epicentre of the ongoing financial, migration and climate crises and plays a central role in the geopolitical rivalry between the EU, US and China. Faced with an influx of refugees and foreign investment, rising water levels and periods of severe drought, the coastal city and its diverse communities provide a critical context for architecture students to learn, experiment and generate ideas and design proposals for new and more sustainable forms of cohabitation.
The studio started in February 2020 and shortly after visiting Piraeus it was abruptly interrupted by the Covid-19 crisis, forcing all of us to move all of our interactions online. Despite the radically reduced mobility, which hampered the students' ability to collaborate, new forms of communication and co-creation were quickly established and the studio continued in cyberspace. Now, almost three months later, countries and cities are gradually relaxing the restrictions that were imposed to stop the spread of the virus. While economies and borders are opening up, we are happy to be able to share the results of the studio. It remains unclear what the larger ramifications of the pandemic will be. We hope that the speculative ideas and concrete interventions presented on this blog will help to imagine a place where people can continue to live and work together and will be able to benefit from each other's presence and proximity.