Thessaloniki in the Extremes
International urban design masterclass
24 – 31 October 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece
“Thessaloniki in the Extremes” was an international urban design masterclass open to students towards the end of their studies, recent graduates, and professionals, in architecture, urban design, and related design/project-oriented fields concerned with the study of the city and urban intervention. The master class was organised through the collaboration of an international team of professionals and academics. It is hosted by the Department of Architecture, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.
“Thessaloniki in the Extremes” came after “Volos in the Extremes” urban design masterclass under the same concept. Having as a point of departure the challenges faced by the city in response to the global crisis, ‘Thessaloniki in the Extremes’ grasped the unique opportunity to reinvent the predominant model of development (both in Greece and around the world) which is now facing severe hurdles. It especially focused on the shift from growth to sustainability, from market-dependency to self-sufficiency, from individually-motivated consumption to publicly-useful production.
Through an 8-day programme of group work, site visits, lectures, and social events, the masterclass, organised into units, produced a set of urban design proposals for different areas of Thessaloniki. Units focused on different geographies of the city, ranging both in scale and location, from building typology to the structure of the urban grid.
The key feature in terms of methodology and working approach was the use of scenarios as tools for architectural development and urban design proposals. As Paola Pellegrini claims, “a scenario is an exercise of creative imagination, based on qualitative and qualitative variables that aims at the creation of images of the future. It means posing the question: WHAT IF?”
The masterclass did not merely intend to engage with present urban trends, problems and challenges, but also to imagine and project future visions of the city resulting from a “what if X happened” scenario development process. Whereas scenarios may be political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, etc., each one of them (or a combination of several) can impact in a different way on the spatial structure and programming of the city.