A Redesign of Athens' Central Railway Station
Railway stations have always been points of urban interaction, symbols of collective memory within which coexist the concepts of transport, technology and social life, but also dominant public buildings that have influenced the development and form of urban space: due to their location and expanded facilities, most central stations have defined the character of their immediate urban environment while at the same time causing a “barrier effect”, splitting the city into two parts, one of which borders the historic center while the other retains a more marginal, industrial or residential character. This peculiar urban condition combined with a long devaluation of the railways in the western world in the mid20th century, led to the degradation of many stations in Europe, including the Central Railway Station of Athens – Larissa Station.
In recent years, due to the great economic and environmental benefits it offers, the railway has revived as a means of transportation. This rapidly spreading railway renaissance is accompanied by a tendency to re-evaluate the functional and spatial status of many stations. The station buildings cease to serve just the train boarding. They are transformed into transit hubs, which connect various means of transport, hosting, at the same time, a number of commercial and business activities that turns them into the new economic and operational centers of the cities. This new centrality necessitates the “bridging” and normalization of the urban fabric that surrounds them. The role of the “bridge” is to be played by the station itself, both spatially and functionally.
In this light, the present work examines a new architectural proposal for the revitalization of the Central Railway Station of Athens (Larissa Station). As a topic it is relevant both because of the image of abandonment it presents today, and because of the potential opportunities offered by the privatization of Greek railways services. The redesign follows the direction of a multilevel “urban bridge”, aiming at: a) bridging the urban gap created by the existing station, b) offering incentives to visitors and travelers by adding new uses (offices, trade, leisure) and, c) interconnecting all means of transport (train, metro, bus, car, bicycle) within a modern transit hub of international standards. The design process follows an extensive strategic plan, resulting from in-depth research, and aims in both an urban and architectural redesign.
Designed by Eleanna Grammatopoulou and supervised by Profs Alkmini Paka and Konstantinos Sakantamis, AUTH, the Diploma Project received one of the 6 equal awards of excellence, for the year 2020, by the Technical Chamber of Greece.