Nikea Cemetery Transformation: From Athenian Burial Ground to Urban Park

The former Nikea Cemetery in Athens, Greece, is set to be transformed into an exciting urban park (Image: Topio7 Architects. Transforming former Nikea Cemetery into urban park)

We’ve featured a number of urban park developments before on this website, but never one designed around an abandoned cemetery. This exciting proposal by Greek architecture firm Topio7 emerged as the winner of a competition to transform the old burial ground in Nikea into a public recreation area based around “a mutual osmosis between the park and the city”.

Topio7 Architects set to transform abandoned cemetery into modern urban park

The 4600 m2 park, located just west of downtown Athens, incorporates a number of “green buffer zones” (described as “the elastic limit”) to create a phased transition from the urban tumult of Greece’s capital to the tranquillity of the park. These elastic buffer zones would be available for a variety of uses, from sports facilities and picnic areas to exercise areas and bazaars, providing what ArchDaily terms “a continuous connection with the urban fabric.”

Topio7’s vision, led by design team Katerina Andritsou, Panita Karamanea and Thanasis Polyzoidis, also takes into account the history of the former cemetery. Paths and promenades follow the same layout as the original graveyard, which has previously been closed to the public. According to the architect, the “main objective of the project is the creation of an open, accessible public space, a contemporary urban park with ecological-bioclimatic character, with special emphasis on the social dimension and the site’s memory.”

ArchDaily writes that “the renewed site is based on a series of circular zones, connecting the promenade and plazas on the perimeter to the heart of the park. Here, a clearing provides rest areas and recreation spots, as well as an embedded restaurant featuring a corten steel facade, which offers views of a meadow from its accessible rooftop.”

“Following the same linear axes as the original cemetery, the park’s primary promenades are composed of cobblestone and green joints, overgrown with wildflowers. Landscaped zones are central to the project’s design, and include a Church plaza, embedded amphitheatre, Mediterranean gardens, fruit tree clearings and a wetland.” The website added: “Fauna such as cypress and water jets have been preserved, complimenting new plantings that combine to create a filter of vegetation.”

Once visitors have transitioned from the busy city streets to the heart of the urban park via the elastic buffer, the multiple green zones that make up the repurposed cemetery are connected by bike paths and walking trails.

Images by Topio7 Architects. Hat tip: ArchDaily.


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