Featured Student Project: Re-coding the Hellenic Parliament by Bob Rattray
Architecture Student Portfolio
Re-coding the Hellenic Parliament by Bob Rattray
Syntagma Square is a space steeped in a history of civilian mobilisation. It gained its name (Constitution Square) from a historic uprising. Today, a tension is held between the square and the opposing parliament. The spaces feel entirely distinct from one another. The parliament is closed off from the very public square, and monitored by armed guards.
This distance was exemplified in the 2011 Occupy protests, in which members of the public occupied the square in an attempt to have their voices heard by those in power. However, austerity cuts were made, proving a total disconnect between the parliament and the people it is meant to represent.
This project creates a greater dialogue between the two, allowing for a more transparent and accessible democratic system. The nature of democracy is questioned beyond the finite design of the square itself. Athens was the birthplace of democracy, and provides an interesting contemporary condition in which to evolve it.
All programmatic elements of the existing parliament are identified and catalogued. Elements which would be actively affected by public interaction or observation were moved into the square (Debating Chambers, Meeting Spaces, Voting Space etc.) while unaffected elements are retained in the existing parliament (Private Offices, Administration Offices etc.).
The abstract volumes extracted from the parliament were then developed into a sort of urban field, forming a new language for the square, with their programmes adapted to accompany the new aspect of public interaction. The removed elements from parliament are left as empty pockets within the existing building, and made publicly accessible, creating a new public route, and new space for protest – within the heart of the old parliament.
The new elements and square layout provide new opportunities for public interaction in parliament, and create more formalised spaces for public assembly, catering for the adaptation of the existing habits of the city. Breaking from the previously enclosed system of parliament, the new square looks to hold the parliament responsible to the public, in a more cooperative system.
Name: Bob Rattray
Project name: Re-coding the Hellenic Parliament
University: University of Edinburgh
Course and Year: MArch year 2
Tutor: Mark Dorrian and Aikaterini Antonopoulou