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Despite Austerity, Athens Completely Revamps Its Downtown

Struggling Athens is perhaps the last place you’d expect to attempt a large-scale urban renaissance. Portrayed worldwide as the ultimate recession basket case, the city is capital of a country where money is hard to find for basic services, let alone for infrastructure projects and new cultural complexes.

It’s something of a surprise then to discover that Athens is planning a major cultural and aesthetic overhaul. Coming up next spring is a new Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a gutted and revamped city center brewery, while a museum of underwater antiquities is also planned, part of a broader project in the Athens harbor district of Piraeus called the Cultural Coast. Located in the shell of a former silo, the museum is designed to encourage visitors catching ferries to the islands to stay a little longer, and to bring strollers and diners back to the city’s busy wharves.

 

These ideas look modest, however, placed next to Rethink Athens, a scheme to reshape a great swath of the city’s center. With the winning entrant to its competition announced last month, Rethink Athens is set to replace downtown cars and asphalt with tramlines, cycle paths, trees and water. Covering an area that’s filled with attractive buildings without quite managing consistent beauty, the plans could turn an area of shabby charisma into one of real, walkable charm…

read more: http://www.theatlanticcities.com

 

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