The nongovernmental organization “Our Park” is behind a successful story of synergy between private and public actors, as well as participatory design, for the creation of an open public space in the heart of Athens, Greece. For over a year, “Our Skate Park” in downtown Athens has set a useful and optimistic precedent in urban planning for the Greek capital that has been in a deep economic crisis since 2008.
The idea sprang up under the imperative need for the regeneration of unused open public spaces all over the city while taking into account the true needs of the citizens of Athens. The plot for the skate plaza is located in a neighborhood surrounded by schools that host around 3,000 students and in close proximity to the metro station. This location makes it ideal for covering the needs of both local and supra-local visitors.
A private telephone company invested in the project and the municipality of Athens, taking into consideration the viability of the plan, was convinced to open the way for the park to be built. It was a five-party co-operation (an NGO, private and public actors, designers, users) that was completed without cost excesses, great transparency and, most importantly, without the state spending a single euro.
According to the architects of the project, Nikos Liakos and Tasos Michandas, they claim this was the first skate/bmx plaza in the municipality of Athens and the first public project that was completed in the record time of 4 months. The valuable contribution of the skate community in the completion of the project also played a significant role in the rapid building of the skate plaza. Their proposals regarding the latest trends in skate parks design together, with the architects’ expertise in landscape design, showed that participatory planning is not a theoretical discussion but a must in urban planning.
What is a successful story of urban participatory planning from your neighborhood?
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