From the Environmental Viewpoint
The Asclepieion Park of Athens area offers a unique opportunity for the creation of the largest perhaps natural park, in a region of the Athens Metropolitan area, which is in general very densely populated. The area is subject to extreme pressure due to the large number of citizens who go to the area either for medical or business purposes (in the area operate 4 Ministries, 8 hospitals and 3 University Schools or Departments).
The Park can be physically connected or associated with other metropolitan green areas in the Athens Basin, which are currently in the design phase, with the aim to produce a chain of free spaces suitable to offer to citizens the possibility to participate in a rich variety of activities related to Health and Culture.
The Asclepieion Park of Athens can contribute decisively to improvement of the natural environment, not only locally but in the greater Athens area as well. ‘Green corridors’ are important tools in the hands of modern urban planners due to the fact that increasing the surface of the green areas help the renewal of air masses above the cities, with very positive impact in the fight against air pollution.
The Asclepieion Park of Athens will adopt anew the model of the ‘Attika Landscape’ i.e. the native local ecosystem. In this way the disturbed ecological balance in the area will be restored, after its abrupt disruption by the adoption of foreign or imported prototypes and patterns several years ago. This intervention in favour of the local ecosystem will be very beneficial, due to the easier adaptation to the local climatic conditions, with the additional benefit of reduced demands in care and water.
Finally the re-establishment of the ‘Attika Landscape’ within the Park will help youngsters to develop the right attitudes towards ecology and environment. This can be achieve due to the fact that the Park will be designed in such a way as to help them become both conscious and frequent users of the Park facilities and active participants in its happenings.
From the Urban Planning Viewpoint
The Asclepieion Park of Athens spans areas of three municipalities in the greater Athens area i.e. Athens, Zografou and Papagou. It is an area belonging to the urban fabric of the Athens Metropolitan area, where more than 4 million people live. Characteristic of the area is that includes eight major hospitals, the installations of the Medical School, the Departments of Dentistry and Nursing of the University of Athens, two ministries and several other public administration facilities.
The total surface of the area is approximately 2,200,000 square metres with maximum dimensions 2,000m x 1,200m and circumference of nearly 8 Km. Approximately 50% of the area was occupied by military installations. Today, the military installations have been reduced considerably and they are going to be removed from the area in the near future. The area is practically empty containing buildings scattered all over, belonging either to the hospitals operating in the area or to the old military installations.
Several of the existing buildings have been restored while several others will follow.
The area is one of the very few of this size left in the Athens Metropolitan area which is suitable for challenging urban planning interventions. Today the area is accessible only to patients, visitors and medical workers and personnel of the other public institutions. The majority of the area is practically inaccessible to the general public.
The area is adjacent to the Campuses of the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Athens. They in turn extend up to the foothills of mountain Hymettus, one of the four mountains that, along with the Saronic Gulf, delimit the Athens basin.
The majority of the area remains nearly wild, fragmented, inaccessible or even ‘forbidden’ for the citizens, vulnerable to arbitrary interventions with continuous cut out of pieces of land to build various kinds of installations to satisfy urgent public needs. There is no vision, medium or long-term planning, adequate and modern infrastructures and naturally no aesthetic results. The area is functioning like an island of activities related to medical services and public administration without any relationship or association with other areas offering similar services.
From the Sociology Viewpoint
Health and sickness from the sociological viewpoint are ‘indices’, ‘opportunities’ or ‘ground’, where the means, by which society faces the ‘evil’, the ‘threat’ and the ‘catastrophe’, are documented.
These means allow the socio-cultural prototypes, which condition not only health and sickness but all other expressions of individual or collective life, to be surfaced.
In this spirit, the Asclepieion Park of Athens will operate as a space determining the ability and the imagination by which the Modern Greek society can handle and manage the challenges related to health and sickness. In parallel, the Park can become a test bench and an experimental area for redefining the issues of health and sickness as the basic elements of the contemporary way of life.
The Asclepieion Park of Athens with its form and its activities, will allow the various social groups such as patients, healthy individuals, friends and relatives to contact the medical workers and the institution instances and to formulate appropriate perceptions and aspects concerning the ‘evil’.
The Asclepieion Park of Athens institutions and the diverse social groups that will operate inside the Park, are expected to shape new prototype preventive strategies, therapies and rehabilitation programmes. As example, one can mention workshops for children familiarisation with the realities sickness and health, centres of electronic and conventional documentation for healthcare services, workshops for information material production aiming at disease prevention, networks for supporting home care, therapy and rehabilitation etc.