The Greek City of Edessa: Search for a Sustainable Future

Tuesdays and WednesdaysEdessa, a small historic town in northern Greece, faces an uncertain future. Its potential to regenerate diminishes as they lose their young population to the larger cities. Its economy has dwindled over many years due to the disappearance of their textile industry. The waterfalls that have powered it still attracts some tourism, but this is limited. Furthermore, wrong planning decisions, by today\’s standards, and questionable architecture have transformed Edessa like any other town in Greece. On the other hand, Edessa has an unusual and beautiful natural environment: pristine wetlands, a river that passes through the town leading to spectacular waterfalls and many green and open areas, all of which are unusual for the region.Addressing the issues faced by Edessa and with the support of the Mayor and the City Council, the studio has a series of objectives. The overall objective is to address sustainability at the environmental level and propose developments that enhance nature and take into account the well-being of future generations. Within the umbrella of environmental sustainability, the studio will initially propose to the municipality an overall business development plan, aiming in revitalizing the economy and giving a character to the city, thereby hoping to reposition Edessa at the regional and metropolitan scales. The individual projects will then originate focusing on:1. the design of the 3 km long, 1 km wide green belt along the river between the village of Agras and Edessa. This area has few external constraints and no buildings.2. the design of the waterfalls area and the reutilization of the old water-mill factory and the relics of the water basins that had been developed by the National Electric Company for energy production.3. the design of public buildings and spaces in the town of Edessa, incorporating water and aiming to enhance civic life. These projects should look at buildings as part of a general development plan, contributing to the life of the city.The projects will include overall development plans as well as physical design for specific areas within the overall plan. The common thread of the projects should be in providing quality of life and making Edessa a desirable city to live, especially as we enter the 21st century when communications change the way we live and promote different working, educational, and entertainment patterns. Additionally, the high speed train will shorten the distance to the regional metropolis of Thessaloniki to 30 minutes, effectively making Edessa a suburb-a possible positive but with the danger of becoming a bedroom community.The studio will be co-taught by Professors Martha Schwartz and Spiro Pollalis who bring complementing skills and backgrounds to the studio and approach design at different scales.The studio is funded by the City of Edessa and the Zofnass Program for Sustainability and includes a week-long field trip to Edessa and northern Greece, where we will meet with the local authorities, design professionals and faculty and students of the University of Thessaloniki.Methods of Evaluation:Attendance to field trip, all classes, working in studio Attendance to all class reviews are mandatoryPerformance in Studio: effort / engagement in the process/ ability to convey ideas through drawing methods / risk-taking Prerequisites:Students from all departments welcomeField Trip Required:Dates: October 3-10, 2009