Time-Bank Local Complex in Athens

The ‘Time-Bank’ thesis project focuses on the concept of alternative social and economic models in relation to lightweight structures and individuals’ participation.

The current economic and social crisis that engulfs Greece, which simultaneously affects the local society and the global village, was the main area of investigation. The aim was to surpass the images of violent protesting that are being regularly reproduced by the media and focus on how people react to the crisis in their everyday life.

It was during the summer of 2011 that the ‘Resentful Movement’ was formed, where people flooded the main squares of Greek cities and tried to express their disagreement to the political handling of the crisis, aiming for direct democracy.

Through the ‘Resentful Movement’ the Greek Time-Bank was formed. The Time-Bank is a community where people exchange services with the transactional unit being time. Every person and every service, whether manual or mental, are equally valued according to the time required for their completion.

Both the character of the Time-Bank organization and the context of the crisis inform the architectural proposal which aims at a low-cost and self-assembling model. Scavenged pallets and excavated earth from the adjacent archaeological site of Plato’s Academy are used as building materials along with pre-fabricated wooden beams and planks.

The Agora space of ancient Greek cities has been analyzed in Space Syntax terms in order to inform the new proposal. The Agora space was normally the largest open convex space of the polis and is considered as the locus of the foundation of democracy. The Agora hosted the combined political, religious and commercial functions of the city-state.

The building program includes an administration space, a café/restaurant, the service exchange units and an open-air theater. The design proposes a central canopy ‘stoa’ colonnade, underneath which the modular units will emerge, and a main courtyard. The construction on site is not a ‘one-off’ scheme, but will follow a gradual addition as long as materials and members will become available. The modular huts and the canopy have been developed according to standard sizes of wood and members are asked to set up the structures themselves, following a user-friendly manual.

The design of the main canopy includes some tent and some pergola covered areas, providing shading to the spaces underneat. The design of the theater is constructed by pallets and earth, while the facades of the complex aim at breaking down the linearity of the scheme and bringing in some of the protesting character to the architectural proposal.

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