Between the ridiculous discussion about the plane trees and the internet cassowary about the statue of Maria Callas, there is a conversation about Athens that constantly escapes us. It concerns the immediate future and the informal competition that will arise as they progress and will be attributed to the public of the different receptions in Elliniko. In fact, we are talking about the Athens of the current decade, the Athens of 2030. If we think that we are already 11 years old from 2010, we realize that we are not talking about an extreme future milestone, but about… “the day after tomorrow”, almost literally.
At first sight, Elliniko and Athens have conflicting interests. There are fears (albeit in a narrow circle, for the time being) that the urban regeneration of the century will “cut” investments, traffic and glamor from the center of Athens. Of course, this is not the case. Elliniko will significantly enhance the tourist displacement of the capital as Disneyland brought even more roads to Paris. Athens can only win from Elliniko. As long as he seizes the opportunity.
And opportunity is not always what we imagine. For Athens, more specifically, it is to abandon the model of a still touristy metropolis, an informal “theme park” that is addressed almost exclusively to tourists and domestic customers, who will arrive from the rest of Attica to have fun, to do their shopping, to explore new attractions and return by subway to their “hiding places”. We saw the limits of this model with the pandemic.
If Athens has something to “sell” it is neither its models nor its shopping malls. It is the complex urban experience offered by the almost classless character of its neighborhoods, the coexistence of uses in a few building blocks. These are features that have disappeared from the center of Polish cities and it is good to know that here these elements survive. If Athens looks forward to a model that will serve you one-dimensionally tourists, holders of “golden visas” and wealthy people who will do their homework in the center, it will really have a problem with Elliniko. If, however, she paved the way for her own model to evolve, attacking inclusion and social pluralism, then she would have nothing to fear.