In collaboration with Kengo Kuma & Associates, AKT II Limited, Doxiadis + LTD, Hilson Moran Partnership LTD
George Batzios Architects
Georges Batzios, Spyros Kleissas, Stavros Frantzios, Manto Monogiou, Vasia Theodoraki, Eva Dimoula, Olga Keleki
The TIF-Helexpo fairgrounds have been part of the people of Thessaloniki’s collective imagination for more than seven decades. Yet, lodged in the heart of contemporary Thessaloniki, the site looms like a question mark over the city’s future: what will be the role of this open expanse of publicly accessible space, apart from hosting the re-imagined complex of TIF? And how could we reconcile an asynchronous and intensive program, with a continuous, living urban reality?
The ConfEx site currently stands as a barrier between the historical city and the eastern districts; the new Special Spatial Plan attempts to free up space to the southwest for a park, and concentrate the buildings while allowing gaps between them. However, no matter the layout, the mere size of the program risks overwhelming the scale of the city surrounding the site. The complexity of the site and program requires a multi-pronged, hybrid approach. The challenge of the new ConfEx Park calls for a rethinking of the Expo and Congress typology, and the creation of a roadmap for embedding it within a fractured but lively urban fabric.
The proposal is comprised of 3 strategies. Overlayed, they combine into a new Agora for the city of Thessaloniki:
THE DOORS: The exhibition halls are braced by several, large scale, and full-height hangar doors. These doors form a network between the halls and the park, and allow the halls to be used as covered outdoor spaces.
THE THICK WALL: All of the support functions and program are distributed around the exhibition halls, which are porous with terraces, courtyards, stairs and platforms for cafes and outdoor activities.
THE CIRCUIT: The top of the thick walls forms a promenade, that is linked via several bridges into an open-air circuit of additional public spaces and elevated gardens. The promenade functionally links the upper halls to each other, and to the park.