Athens Living Lab

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First international OLA Event in the Athens Living Lab: Multiplier Event & Intensive Study Programme

As part of the ERASMUS project 'Open Landscape Academy', an intensive programme took place at the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece from 24-31 May 2024. 45 teachers and students from 10 project partners from six countries took part in the programme.

The programme focused on the integrated and participatory development of the industrial district of Elaionas in the immediate vicinity of the university.

European democracy was invented 2,500 years ago in the Athenian Polis. There could therefore be no better place for the kick-off of the Open Landscape Academy.

Spatial Context of the Athens Living Lab: The landscape around the campus of the Agricultural University

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Overall goals of the Open Landscape Academy

'Democratic Landscape Transformation' is the focus of the ERASMUS project OLA - Open Landscape Academy. The project deals with the question of how people inside and outside universities can participate in democratic processes for the sustainable development of their immediate living environment. On the one hand, this involves process design, innovative methods, knowledge transfer and community building. On the other hand, the focus is always on concrete landscape realities as a common reference and specific system context for sustainable development on site.

Local Challenges of the Athens Urban Landscape

In the course of the project, the Agricultural University of Athens, together with the social enterprise Commonspace, has set up a living lab that deals with the university's immediate community environment.

Athens is facing major challenges. The city is currently considered the hottest metropolis in Europe and is disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change. At the same time, enormous economic and social transformation processes have to be mastered.

All of this comes together very visibly in the district of Elaionas, a formerly fertile olive grove plain in the floodplain of the river Kifissos, which now lies under the motorway to the port.

A collective and intensive learning and co-creation week

Over the course of the week, four international working groups developed different transformation pathways that could enable a democratic and participatory process. The results provide important impulses for the further development of the Athens living lab.

The projects included narrative approaches, drawn storylines, playful models for building local open space structures, development concepts for the local cultural heritage and the conception of an overarching governance model and an exemplary business model for a listed site to be transformed in the immediate vicinity of the university.

Overview of workshop results

Multiplier Event for the OLA Charta for Democratic Landscape Transformation

The international week in Athens began on Friday, 24 May, with a multiplier event involving the Mediterranean working group of the European professional association for landscape architecture (IFLA Med) and numerous other local stakeholders. In this context, the project manager presented the 'Charta for Democratic Landscape Transformation', an important interim result of the OLA project.

This was followed by statements and reactions from multiple local and international representatives on the Charta's key messages and transfer opportunities for local adaptation. The charta comprises the key guidelines, values and concepts that the Open Landscape Academy - OLA - will be addressing on a permanent basis. The aim is to develop a global community of interest. OLA brings together people who want to initiate, support and steer democratically based transformation processes in their local landscapes.

To this end, OLA offers theoretical and methodological reflection, good practice examples and permanent exchange formats that are digital and therefore globally inclusive.

Impressions from the OLA Multiplier Event in Athens

More impressions from the workshops and field visit in Athens