STATES OF EMERGENCY: Vrisa, Lesbos

project (M.A. Arch. / M.Sc. Urb.) Winter Semester 2017-18

 

During the last years a series of natural phenomena have caused irreparable damage in various areas around the world. The earthquake of Mexico, the Hurricane in Puerto Rico and Haiti are only few of the recent examples. The global climate change warns for future natural disaster, which will result both to the physical destruction of rural and urban areas and the mass migration of people.

The Master Design Project of the winter semester will aim to reconsider places in state of emergency and think of flexible future scenarios, able to adapt to the new unpredictable conditions of post-disaster. Focusing on the case of the small village of Vrisa and the specific condition of Lesbos as the arrival island for hundreds of thousands of refugees, this project seek to develop concepts for the village, able to reflect on a wider scale and different states of emergency of cities and countries.

After the earthquake of June 2017, only few houses in Vrisa were marked as inhabitable. Most of the inhabitants were moved and distributed to the near by villages of Vatera and Polichnitos, in hotel resorts or empty houses. Some of the shops also reopened in those neighbor villages keeping the activities of the village alive in their new spaces. Although the school building was destroyed by the earthquake, the function of the school will move temporary in containers at the same spot of the village. Due to the architectural value of Vrisa, the discussion at the moment concerning the rebuild of the village focuses on what level the houses should be rebuilt exactly the same as they were before. In an attempt to preserve the volumes and analogies of the former settlement, a new regulation defines the rebuilding of each house in a minimum of 75% of its total square meters. Taking into consideration different aspects of the nowadays condition of the village and the island, the Design Project ‚States of Emergency‘ will try to suggest new concepts for the rehabilitation of Vrisa.

The issues that will be addressed during the semester include the concept of archiving the city, ideas on ephemerality, sustainability and the thin border line between preservation and destruction.

Fieldwork: In the beginning of the project a site-specific work will take place in the village of Vrisa. During this travel the aim will be to work on documenting areas of the village and archive the material before and after the earthquake. The process of architectural surveying will help to experience the space and identify the significant elements and qualities of the village. The material produced during the fieldwork will serve the process for the rebuilt of Vrisa and also will become the base for the further elaboration on concepts developed in Munich later on and during the semester.

Lesbos, sometimes referred to as Mytilini after its capital, is a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of 1,633 km2 with 320 kilometres (199 miles) of coastline, making it the third largest island in Greece. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait and in late Palaeolithic/Mesolithic times was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last glacial period.

Vrisa is a village in the southern part of Lesbos island approximately 50 km from Mytilene. The village is named after one of the two girls Agamemnon took from Lesbos during the ten-year Trojan War. Five kilometers south is the famous Vatera beach. On June 12, 2017 Vrissa was severely damaged in an earthquake that struck approximately 12 km South of the town of Plomari. Most people could not return to their homes, rendering the village effectively a „ghost village”. source: wikipedia