Rivers are marginal elements of the Greek urban condition. Due to minor investment in both the creation and maintenance of public programs related to the integration of important components of the environment into the economic and cultural life of the cities, rivers fall ‘out of sight’.
Their presence can be perceived only when extended areas are flooded due to heavy rain, while usually minor safety measures are taken, or when cases of marginalized social groups settle in the area becoming a nuisance for land owners and by extension for public opinion. At the same time, weather seasonal changes in Greece, differentiate the river microclimates and natural characteristics: from flooding raging entities to deserted voids.
This, we believe, is an important factor in destabilizing a constant and closer relationship between local population and rivers in terms of usage and leisure.
Taking a closer look, in the Xerias river case study, this formal instability in terms of seasonal weather and institutional neglect leaves a lot of space for other types of less regulated human activity, from Roma settlements and fishermen’s small docks to groups of cyclists and skateboard riders using the seasonally emptied river bed.
Our interest is to report this informal activity and its spatial traces. We believe that through the instances of a more spontaneous relation between people, their habits and the constantly changing environment of the river we can better direct an architectural study concerning the specific landscape and its cultural significance.
The objective is to program and design a network of versatile constructions based on the evidence of the present human activity in the area with the effort to deliver relations between this activity, the neighboring production zone and the city of Volos.
Since the period of study will be summer 2011, we are going to focus on the natural and cultural conditions taking place during the specific moment. For understanding the seasonal differences in the life by the river interviews of people or spatial traces can be evaluated.
Our stance is that due to the present situation in Greece, ambition is rather concentrated in understanding anew and intervening critically than using formal or programmatic manuals in landscape and architectural design to succeed breathtaking results; rather than geometrically oriented formal research we are interested in the study of the form of relations between human subjects, their customary habits and the natural context of the river Xerias.