Speleo ‘walkshops’ for Athens Biennale

Speleo, based in Athens’ Omonoia neighbourhood, is an open and participatory workshop organised by a group of architects during the Athens Biennale. The project aims to trigger and enhance public debate on the ongoing and pressing issue of abandoned buildings in the centre of Athens.

This initiative started as a group walk with the intention of mapping unoccupied buildings in Omonoia Square. The square and its surrounding area have a bumpy history. It was once the centre of the city, before becoming a symbol of decay. In the past few months, however, it has started to regain its old vibe. There are still many vacant and abandoned spaces in the area and its nearby streets.

The visitors and the participants of the workshop had the chance to answer the following question, their answers being exhibited until the end of the Biennale: Is an alternative economy in long-term unoccupied building possible in order to…

Idea forms for the Speleo workshop © Anthi Christou
Idea forms for the Speleo workshop © Anthi Christou

Raising awareness through participation

Speleo is part of the research of Fanis Kafantaris, the project’s main initiator. Although it hasn’t yet resulted in any concrete matches, projects like this have the potential to highlight the negative impact of vacancy in a very intriguing and detailed way. Speleo provided a participatory platform with gaming and creative characteristics, which could be the basis for a more systematic mapping of vacant spaces in the city with the help of the citizens.


By Fanis Kafantaris (City of Athens, EL)


This case study on ‘mapping temporary use’ is taken from our 1st REFILL Magazine ‘Fitting temporary use in the legal framework‘.


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