Flora Milanez: Lavrion's Cultural Factory
Designing from Heritage - Lavrion's Cultural Factory
T.U. Delft's MSc2 Heritage Studio, 2017
About the project
Embedded in the hills by the coastline of Attica in Southern Greece, outlooking the shimmering Aegean sea, the city of Lavrion is a open-air mineralogical and industrial museum that keeps a rich archaeological history. From its soil flourished the silver that served as the main revenue of the ancient Athenian state many millennia ago. More recently, in the 19th Century, Lavrion hosted the French Mining Company, bringing industrialization and an influx of workers from the mining trade to the city. Nowadays the ruins of the mining and washery facilities have been transformed into the Lavrion Technology and Culture Park (LTCP), a body of scientific research and education run by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). The complex still hosts many remaining industrial buildings which hold expressive heritage value and high potential to accommodate new functions to fit current demands of the region.
With the aim of promoting the coming together of the local population and making the Park inviting and accessible, the function assigned to the old power plant and gas station buildings consists in a space where cultural and educational workshops will be offered to both locals and tourists in a different range of duration spans and topics - from artistic production such as pottery, sculpting, printmaking, painting and photography to more technical experiences such as carpentry and maintenance of electrical appliances. The intervention also provides spaces for more casual uses, such as exposition areas, small open library stacks on the workshop subjects, green gardens, reading areas and a cafe.
Underlying the design process was a keen attention to the existing elements of the complex within their topographical setting, historical character and narrative layers. Many of the qualities found in these buildings are of a unique beauty, strength or memory that should be maintained. The new gesture strives to enhance the qualities of the preexisting while introducing a new expression that has its own personality and allows a transformation to take place in order to accommodate the new uses.
Inspired by the landscape scenery of the complex and the ancient Greek attention to the promenade within architecture, routing was taken as one of the guiding principles of this design. Some of the pathways are more clearly marked while others come from an attempt to maintain the sense of discovery found in the the old ruins. In both cases, the walk offers the observer different viewpoints through which the architecture and landscape can be experienced from. In order to mark the interventions as clearly recognizable additions, color was used as one of the protagonist elements. The blood red references the rusty color commonly found in former industrial sites and enhances the earthy brick tones. More importantly, it functions as a binding thread bringing together the ensemble and demarcating the most explicit components of the designed routing.
By offering an always operating public space supporting variety of uses and activities and accessible to anyone, this initiative strives to promote an urban renewal, tensioning the surrounding city and in doing so, catalyzing the development of Lavrion as a cultural/educational/technological hub.
About the author: Flora Milanez is an Architecture and Urbanism student at the University of São Paulo (Brazil). She has recently returned from a year as an exchange student in T.U. Delft (the Netherlands) and is currently doing her internship at the 11th São Paulo Architecture Biennial.