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Thursday, December 2, 2021

What will the University be like after the renovation - The project in 20 questions and answers


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At the end of 2021, the works for the final renovation of the University begin and are expected to be completed in 12 to 15 months. The budget of the project will reach 3 million euros with a key element of the new renovation to highlight the green spaces, total area 2.260 sq.m .. This green intervention will be developed with large flower beds in combination with 87 new large plane trees, 10 meters high to be planted along the road on both sides.

The aesthetic, functional and environmental upgrade of Athens, with large-scale interventions in the city center and a series of projects in each of its neighborhoods, is evolving according to the planning and schedule set by the Municipal Authority.

The connection of Syntagma Square with Omonia through the central axis of the University, has always been the "vision" of urban planners and planners that was never realized, but now the conditions have matured and Athens is entitled to become the European capital worthy of Greece. With the completion of the probationary period of the temporary interventions and after the recent start of the renovation works of the lower Syntagma Square, the Municipality of Athens will proceed at the end of the year with the corresponding works on Panepistimiou Street, within the framework of the Great Walk.

The renovation in the central artery of the capital will offer an additional 19.360 sq.m. friendlier, aesthetically upgraded and environmentally valuable public space.

For the strengthening of the sustainable mobility, through the widening of the existing sidewalks, 4.270 sq.m. will be given to the pedestrians. while 2.260 sq.m. will be the green spaces (with large flower beds with shrubs and seasonal plants) in combination with the 87 new large plane trees that will be planted along the road on both sides.

 The project in 20 questions and answers

1. When will the projects start and when will they be completed?

Answer: The projects will start according to the plan, at the end of 2021 with a completion schedule of 12-15 months.

2. Does this mean trouble in the city for a year and a half?

Answer: The Municipality of Athens now has high know-how as well as experience in the execution of large-scale projects in the city. The project will be developed in parts precisely so as not to disturb the operation of the city and disturb the activities of the citizens. Just like in the renovation of the lower Syntagma Square, the organization of the construction site and the development of the projects will be done in an exemplary way. The understanding and cooperation of pedestrians, onboarders and visitors will be equally valuable.

3. How much will the renovation cost?

Answer: The project budget is 3 million euros.

4. Why did the permanent projects not proceed from the beginning and the one-year trial was chosen?

Answer: It is a good practice followed in all major European capitals, but also in many other cities around the world. Major interventions are piloted and then permanent ones. The trial period allows data to be collected to improve designs. This method was used to renovate Times Square, works in Milan and elsewhere. This is also the case with the University. Without the pilot project, it would have been unthinkable from the beginning to widen the sidewalks as a permanent project.

5. So what was found and what changed in the design after the trial period?

Answer: The detailed recordings and analyzes of the traffic data led to optimizations of the final design by changing the cross section of the road from three to four lanes.

6. What is provided for the traffic of buses?

Answer: The construction of an exclusive bus lane will contribute to the unimpeded movement of buses and the uninterrupted service of stops, enhancing sustainable mobility by public means.

7. Was the prediction of the transport specialists that the crossings will be reduced and the road load will be reduced, confirmed?

Answer: Absolutely. The measurements from the National Technical University of Athens show that the crossings of cars were reduced by 16% and the crossings of taxis and motorcycles increased by 8%, while at the same time the time required to complete the route was reduced. In particular, traffic conditions at the University and in the surrounding area balanced close to pre-change levels relatively quickly (in less than 3 months).

In detail: Travel times at the University showed a temporary increase during the first weeks of implementation of the regulations, but then decreased significantly. Typically, in June and July 2021 the travel times of the University were reduced by 30% compared to the corresponding months of 2020. In September, the corresponding reduction was 14%.

Pedestrian mobility in Athens during the months of June - September increased by 23% in 2021, compared to 2020.

8. Was there, if so, an environmental benefit from reducing car crossings?

Answer: Again the measurements by the National Technical University of Athens showed a reduction of pollutant loads (total pollutant load, CO2 emissions) compared to the period before the implementation of traffic regulations, by 26,7% and 27,4% respectively.

9. Why should the already large sidewalks of the University grow?

Answer: The goal of widening sidewalks is not just to achieve unimpeded pedestrian movement. The sidewalk becomes multifaceted as it serves many activities. Mini parks, treadmills and bicycle lanes, small recreation areas are created. As is the case, for example, in Paris, Berlin and other major European cities.

10. How useful will the new sidewalks be for people with mobility problems?

Answer: Although the University actually had large sidewalks, it lacked complete provision for universal accessibility. Accessibility will be unobstructed on the new wide sidewalks. At the junctions of the University with the vertical streets, ramps with gentle slope will be created, in order to serve the movements of pedestrians, parents with wheelchairs, the elderly and especially the people with traffic problems. The friendly crossings will be 16 along the road, for additional road safety and unimpeded traffic along the road.

11. What place will the bicycle have in the new University?

Answer: The movement of bicycles and other means of low mobility is provided for in a specific lane arrangement and will be institutionalized as mixed use when permitted by the relevant legislation.

12. How many new trees will be planted? And how much will it be in total after the renovation?

Answer: 83 young large plane trees will be planted - 9-10 meters high - and together with the existing plane trees and acacias (a total of 167 trees) they will create a modern urban garden similar to those of Paris.

13. Why were the plane trees chosen that need a lot of water and as their roots grow they can destroy the sidewalks?

Answer: There are still plane trees in Panepistimiou, Dionysiou Areopagitou and other parts of the city, while they are part of the urban fauna of Attica. The plane trees are evergreen and as they are broadleaf they offer great shading.

In the study of the project there are special provisions for the green and a modern planting technique has been foreseen that allows the healthy growth of the tree without creating future problems on the sidewalks.

Where planting is possible, the implementation of sustainable underground drainage systems is envisaged. This infrastructure offers water retention at the roots of the trees, allowing the water consumed in irrigation to be saved. In addition, with the retention of rainwater, floods are better treated.

14. Apart from planting large trees, how else is green enhanced?

Answer: In addition to planting new trees at the University, large linear flower beds will be created. The flower beds besides the trees will accommodate various species of shrubs, but also many seasonal plants. The total area of ​​the flower beds will amount to 2.260 sq.m. and will give the street its green character.

15. Will there be a place for someone to sit down to rest, to enjoy the Trilogy?

Answer: The 59 outdoor living areas in the shade of the trees are a key element of the renovation plan. In addition, 5 public fountains with drinking water will be created, in order to limit the use of plastic bottles.

16. What is provided for lighting?

Answer: 112 modern luminaires that consume minimal energy will be installed at the University. The lighting fixtures are arranged in a linear arrangement along the street and have two lighting fixtures at different levels, in order to illuminate both the sidewalk and the street with a lighting mast. In this way, adequate lighting is ensured on the sidewalks, but also on the road.

17. Why are marble and concrete chosen as materials?

Answer: The choice of materials was made based on the timelessness of the design. Marble slabs and concrete in light gray shades show high
reflectivity to offer increased thermal comfort and reduce the urban thermal island effect. At the same time, they are non-slip and have a high resistance to stress.

18. What will happen to the urban equipment used in the trial period? Where will the planters, the benches, the plants go?

Answer: Everything will be used to create new green spaces. The neighborhoods where new small parks will be created with this equipment have already been selected. The subsequent use of urban equipment to upgrade the neighborhoods was the reason that from the beginning high-strength materials and robust constructions were chosen.

19. Who did the project study?

Answer: The study of the "Widening of the sidewalks of Panepistimiou Street", which includes the entire length of the street, from Syntagma Square to Omonia Square, was prepared by the Technical Service of the Municipality of Athens. The Office of Landscape Architects E. Pangalos & Associates collaborated. Ms. Elli Pangalou, a distinguished landscape architect, participated as a special advisor (she has participated in important projects such as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and the Reconstruction of Faliriko Bay), as well as the architect associate Ms. Androniki Xystra.

20. Which state services approved the plan and the interventions?

Answer: They have been approved by the Ministry of Culture after a unanimous opinion of the Central Council of Modern Monuments. Also, the study has been approved by the Central Council of Architecture of RIS. The proposed traffic interventions have already been approved by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

For any information about the renovation projects, you can contact the Press Office of the Municipality of Athens at tel. 210 3722163 and in the email [email protected]

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