Yearbook 2015. Landscape Arche-Types
Greek Landscape Arche-Types
By Katerina Gkoltsiou,
President of the Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects (PHALA)
In Greece, landscape played a vital role in all aspects of social life. Ancient Greeks had a holistic approach to spatial composition of buildings, forming an organic composition harmoniously integrated with the landscape. In recent years, the notion of landscape was recognised especially with the ratification by the Greek Parliament of the Florence Convention, and it was by that time that systematic work began in the sphere of Greek landscapes. This work was encouraged by the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change. A national landscape typology was introduced to spatial planning and sustainable development plans, focusing mainly on landscapes of outstanding beauty and deteriorated landscapes. It was the first time that landscape architects were involved in the whole process. In the meantime, many serious attempts to analyse and map Greek landscape types in national or regional level, were performed by Universities, institutions, NGO’s. A good example is the project MedScapes: Development of Landscape Character Assessment as a tool for effective conservation of natural heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean”, (http://enpimedscapes.org/index.php/en/) funded by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument for the Mediterranean Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme (ENPI). In this project landscape architects were involved and the landscape assessment for Lesvos-Greece was “driven” by the author, on behalf of the University of Aegean.
2. Landscape Archetypes
Greek landscapes are famous for their diversity and are characterised by a variable geomorphology of mountains and hills, plains, peninsulas, different size islands of the Aegean Archipelagos, river deltas lakes and lagoons. This geomorphology and country’s location led to different climatic zones and as a result contributed to landscape great biodiversity. Greek landscape types are an amalgamation of the junction of landscapes from the three old-world continents—Europe, Asia and Africa. Typical examples of landscape types of Greece are the scrub landscapes of the southern and smaller Aegean islands, the oak savannas of southern Greece, and the coastal or alpine landscapes of the North,.
Our classification to landscape archetypes is based on the selection criteria of landform, landuse, settlement pattern, field pattern and on the fact that archetypal landscapes highlight a very special culture, revealing sound knowledge about making the best use of the natural elements and territory integration, promoting human presence, great attractiveness and aesthetic value. Based on the above, we are distinguishing the following broad groups in national level:
2.1. Island landscape archetypes: The case of the Cycladic islands
The uniqueness of the landscape of the Cycladic islands is based on the elements of the Aegean sea, climate, geomorphology, vegetation (shrub-lands, degraded macquis) and architecture of monolithic plastic forms of houses. The lack of soil due to erosion, the inaccessible land, the limited stocks of water and the intensification of agriculture led to the construction of a variety of terraces, as one of the most prominent landscape element along with the storehouses, windmills, stonewall enclosures.
2.2 Coastal landscape archetypes: The case of mainland Greece
Among the most prominent characteristics of the Greek coastal landscapes are the variety (from sandy to rocky types) and length of the coastline (around 15.000klm). The coastal landscape is characterized by an insensitive use of space and land and presents a variety of landscape types from settled/unsettled coastal lowlands/plains/valleys/hills, coastal escarpments and coastal dunes. Coastal forests, cultivations (olives), sclerophyllus vegetation are in association with settlements of vernacular architecture. Examples are found at Pilio, Evoia, Halkidiki, etc.
3. Cultivated landscape archetypes: Τhe case of olive groves
This landscape type is dominated by olive-tree cultivations of lowlands and valleys and spread mainly in the central, south of Greece and some of the North Aegean islands. This archetype is also consisted by variable outbuildings or associated with a symbolic character due to its historical value. Among the most famous one are the ancient olive grove of Athens and the traditional olive grove of Amfissa, unique for the world cultural heritage archaeological site of Delphi.
4. Volcanic landscape archetypes
Greece is known for its volcanic activity and the most important volcanoes are situated in Methana, Santorini, Milos and Nisyros. These volcanic landscapes are unique for their geological and aesthetic value due to the formation of the various volcanic deposits. Most of these types are associated with human’s interventions such as mining since the antiquity. The traces of history are very noticeable at the archaeological site of Akrotiri or the well preserved Cycladic settlements of Santorini.
5. Mountainous Archetypes: The case of gorges and outstanding geological features
This landscape type consists of mountains, very steep limestone gorges, glaciers and eroded geological formations. It is also characterized by dense forest vegetation, uninhabited or sparsely populated areas. Man made features such bridges, monasteries and paths are the predominant features. Very famous examples are Vikos gorge, Meteora, etc.
6. Urban landscape archetypes: The case of historic city centers and towns
In this landscape type, we can identify well-preserved historical town centers (e.g. Athens), towns associated with the surrounding natural landscape (hills, rivers, coastline) such as the town of Nafplio, Kalamata, Volos, Kastoria, protected traditional and historic settlements such as Monemvasia, Syros etc. These landscape archetypes contain historical landscape structure elements as well as elements of the present landscape structure and present a great architectural variety.
7. Wetland landscape archetypes: The case of lakes
This landscape type is mostly flat with wide distant views, characterized by open-field wetlands mostly composed by reedbeds, storehouses and agricultural outbuildings which are scattered on the sides. This archetype is well known for its environmental and cultural value. In most cases, extensive agricultural activities are taking place. Distinctive examples are the Prespa lakes at the North part of Greece.
Gaps and lessons learned
It is our duty as landscape architects to preserve and highlight the value of these archetypal landscapes. This is why it is important, to establish a common framework of landscape character assessment methodology in order to map all Greek landscape types as well as potential threats and opportunities at national and regional level. PHALA is supporting any initiative towards landscape analysis and assessment as well as guidance for research and professional activity related to landscape.
Yearbook 2016. Futurescapes
Futurescapes: Rethinking the Greek Urban Landscapes
By Katerina Gkoltsiou,
President of the Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects (PHALA)
Today landscapes are rapidly transformed according to the societal needs and recent development trends. In Greece, starting from the Olympic Games, it has been a boost of landscape works which have been declined during the years of economical crisis. Although many of the Olympic projects were abandoned and remained unused till today, the supporting infrastructures or parks have changed the image of the cities. There are some good examples of landscape design projects, which show the way Greek Landscape Architects are thinking of the future urban landscapes. Among the public parks, the most well known and newly constructed is the Stavros Niarchos Park (210.000 m2). It is one of the most significant cultural and environmental projects ever undertaken in Greece, by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s (€596 million donation) . The Architectural Design was done by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Landscape Design by D. Nevins & Associates / H. Pangalou & Associates.
The basic concept was to create a sustainable park with its own ecology and the unique biodiversity of a Mediterranean hill. This idea is expanded to the green roofs of the National Library and all plants are indigenous from the Greek islands. Another good example is the linear park along the waterfront of Thessaloniki, which is consisted by a series of 8 thematic gardens. The garden of water designed by landscape architects from the Nikiforidis-Cuomo Architectural office, emphasizes the value of biodiversity in water habitats as well as the importance of Greek nature in the urban waterfront environment.
Due to economical crisis and to increase of social need for more green spaces, urban agriculture is also among the most current trends. Community gardens supporting production functions through the growth of edible and ornamental plants are particularly important for residents in low-income areas. The project called "e_co_llectiva", awarded the first prize in the national architectural competition Athens x4 and the 1st International Prize in the 4th Landscape Architecture Exhibition in Belgrade. The designers Katerina Petsiou (Architect) & Thanassis Polyzoidis (Landscape Architect-Architect) aimed to create an urban garden-park which promotes the concept of collective activity and self – management, where nature “invades” in the city and encourages the participation of engravings collaborative services through internet platform.
Green roofs are essentially a new alternative of a network of outdoor green spaces and the Greek Government is nowadays more sensitive towards their installation. The motivation for having LEED certification of a building, may conduct the whole landscape design to a amore holistic approach. A good example of Leed Gold Certified is the Karela Office Park designed by Kokkinou - Kourkoulas (Architects) and H. Pangalou & Associates (Landscape Architects), comprising a green roof (7.000m2) which is formed by linear plantings of Greek, Mediterranean herbs.
Lastly, a new challenge for landscape architects are the refugee camps placed all over Greece marking a new type of urban landscape. PHALA focus on landscape design of two Refugee camps in Greece. One is the “Elaionas” Refugee Camp located in the centre of Athens and the other one is in Thessaloniki. The proposals of the designs have been planned to create hardscape and softscape structures accessible to its existing as well as prospective users. It was imperative that the transformation of the sites addresses the basic and essential needs of the refugees such as generating softscape elements and sheltered spaces.
Yearbook 2017. Unlimited Lanscapes, no fence, no offence
Unlimited landscapes, no fence, no offence: Landscapes of truce
By Katerina Gkoltsiou, Andreas Nassos, Angeliki Paraskevopoulou
Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects (PHALA)
European Landscape Convention encourages the presence of the landscape as a value to be shared by different cultures. The intention is thus to promote the integration of the landscape dimension in international relations, at national, regional and local levels. Landscape has no borders and thus is not a matter for individual states alone. From the ancient times, landscapes were considered as places of truce and they had a universal value. Most well known example is the landscape of Olympia. During the ancient Olympic Games, a sacred status of truce among the individual cities gave this sense of neutrality. Till today, people from all over the world coexist for a certain period during the Olympic Games. For that moment, this landscape has no boundaries or limits and becomes universal.
A more contemporary landscape without any social boundaries, where people from different s
ocial classes and political beliefs, act and interact with the landscape, is the park of Plato Academy in Athens. Academy of Plato is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Athens with a brilliant past, because of the homonymous school of philosophy that was founded in the area in
387 BC. It was a spiritual centre of Ancient Athens that determined the philosophical thought
of our modern civilization.
Today, this centre of political reflection is a local park where citizens from various and sometimes extreme political beliefs coexist. Its particularity is also based at the presence of archaeological sites in this green infrastructure. The installation of fences around the park for the protection of antiquities, created many objections from the locals, who saw their park to be separated from the neighbourhood.
Borders around parks are alien to our culture, since open spaces used to be for exchange of ideas and free movement of people. Today most of these borders are responsible for the creation of ghetto or areas with criminal behaviour.
It is very important, for landscape design and management, to respect the social aspect and landscape identity, before creating borders and social barriers for the sake of safety and protection of identity.