Rebranding the city of Nemea into a new wine destination in Greece, and the role of mobility on facilitating the experience of participation into a vivid, urban landscape.

Xenia Mastoraki, Athens, Greece

This double project concerns the upgrade of Nemea's basic urban structure to lead the re-branding concept of the city, in order to turn it into a new wine destination of high quality, under the ideals of sustainability and accessibility.

"To sense (sentir) is to have qualities" M. Merleau-Ponty

Walking and active transport are important elements in order to "sense" the qualities of the landscape. Walking, and participating through walking, into the landscape itself is the most important gesture in order to turn a "space" into a "place". Even if it is quite vague what "space" is, this is not the same with the term "place". In reality, place can be easily explained as a space which is acquired with definition and meaning, a locality that can become a center of felt value. The relationship of place with time is the one that faces it as a pause in movement. And it is this pause that provides it with this felt value.
The dramatization of human places makes them vividly real and provides them with identity. This can be effected through pointing out the aspirations, needs, and functional rhythms of personal and group life.

The main challenge in this project has been the transformation of the existent urban structure into a new one, based on qualities upon human experience. The co-existence of the great outdoors with the city's built identity reveal a lot about the character of the place, the "genius loci"". Moving through the built landscape we reveal not only who we are, but also who we want to become. Rhythms of the landscape play a crucial role to one's everyday story.

"Streets and their sidewalks, the main public places of a city, are its most vital organs"
Jane Jacobs

Here, streets and sidewalks lack of both aesthetic and functional, not to mention ecological, approach on the way they should have been designed.
Roads are covered with asphalt; most of them are neglected and abandoned, dangerous and insufficient. Asphalt, as a product coming out from petroleum, apart from the fact that is not eco-friendly, is also a choice that cannot stand in a small city that wants to reveal its hidden traditional character. Granite cobblestones could be the alternative choice. Aside from sheer appeal, cobblestones are also prize for their toughness.
Sidewalks exist only in the town centre. They do not only appear as "out of place" aesthetically and ethically, but also they do not provide accessibility to people with needs. They are made out of concrete pavers of vague color choice. The total design seems out of reason and goal. Pervious concrete instead is proposed for its sustainable character on stormwater management and heat island effect reduction.
Building facades have not a specific image, architectural characteristic or aesthetic rule under which are supposed to appear into the total landscape. Facades' thermal insulation could be an alternative in order to protect, maintain and enhance buildings' facades.
Another failure is the absence of green zones, to heat down the temperature, minimize air pollution, sustain urban drainage, provide shading zones for pedestrians and allow local ecosystem grow.

"If we are to use our tools in the service of fitting in on Earth, our basic relationship to nature, even the story we tell ourselves about who we are in the universe has to change:
Janine M. Benyus

Finally, in the existing urban structure urban furniture is absent, poor, out of date, or destroyed. Urban lighting is another parameter that is missing. Existent lighting elements are insufficient, neglecting contemporary needs for sustainable design and in some places light pollution could be proved also dangerous.
Concluding, all these gestures have one basic purpose, to speak a language under a common vocabulary based on common parameters in order to promote a healthy and unique place of interest both for visitors and locals. Mobility, then, can succeed in facilitating the experience of participation into a vivid, urban landscape.


Xenia Mastoraki, Athens, Greece

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