In the last decade, many architectural projects have come to fruition in Thessaloniki, Greece. One that particularly stands out, and has a special place in many young people’s hearts, is the regeneration of the central pier of the city’s port.
This project started in 1997 within the framework of the “European Capital of Culture” program for the city of Thessaloniki. The first part of the project included the restoration of the historic buildings of pier A, which used to act as the harbor’s warehouses.
Today, one might find the following structures gracing the city’s pier:
- The Museum of Photography;
- The Cinema Museum;
- The Contemporary Art Centre (as part of the State Museum of Contemporary Art);
- Buildings used for screenings during the Film Festival of Thessaloniki;
- And cafés and restaurants with a striking view of the sea and the city.
The second part of the project was undertaken by the architect K. Oudatzi in 2010 and was completed by March 2012. The main objective was to transform the empty spaces of pier A into a vibrant public space that highlights the key elements, such as the restored buildings of the historic site.
Something that I deem extremely significant is the fact that although the architect had chosen a modern design for the tracing of the pedestrian paths, the seating areas, and the urban equipment, she also decided to incorporate the original blocks of the pier. Therefore, a mild landscape restoration along with a smooth integration of new structures was achieved, without tampering too much with the area’s historic identity.
The pier’s benches are also something that seem to appeal to a younger demographic. These have a very simple but particularly elegant design, and are also really comfortable. Another thing one might notice walking around is the olive trees – the trademark trees of Greece – which can be found planted across the area, and also the combination of the "wall washing" lights, which help you navigate around, and the more dramatic, almost “theatrical” ones, which turn focus to the historic buildings.
Every day the pier is filled with people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying the sun by the sea. Is there a place like that in your city?
Credits: Images by Ntia Vouvaloudi. Data linked to sources.