The first issue of the magazine is dedicated to cities and in particular to the urban space and the urban green space. This choice arose spontaneously, since the city is the familiar environment of the magazine’s contributors and half of the planet’s population.
The way we perceive our cities is negative due to a number of actual problems, such as social inequalities, pollution, traffic, lack of vegetation, noise, the impersonal character and the hideous face of several buildings… Nevertheless, in these cities one can find, most often, an interesting historic centre, archaeological sites, parks and green spaces – breathings of life in a densely built environment, remarkable buildings constructed before and after the war, notable contemporary buildings, corners hiding secrets, a statue, an image. Besides, there is something more within towns and their urban shell; there is a mobility created by their effort to shape their course while preserving their historic identity, fulfilling modern needs, serving multicultural demands, as well as demands arising from globalization.
The problem in Greek cities is that their positive elements are threatened while their negative characteristics constantly gain ground, transforming the cities in non-viable places. The specific subject of MOnuMENTA’s current issue aims that cities “speak” through the writing of the people that work on them, but also of the people that live in them and experience them. Emphasis is given to their historic section, especially of modern era, which is in danger despite its crucial role in the life and evolution of the city. We wish to define that in this historic framework we comprise the architectural heritage of the ’30s, and also the postwar period, whose need for protection has not yet been recognized. We also intend to speak of urban green space, no longer frequent in Greek cities. We keep reading in the Press that Athens has the lowest ratio of green space per inhabitant. And what we only witness is actions and deeds, both by citizens and people in charge, to reduce the scant green space. Aggressive occupation and building up of the last remaining open, green spaces and the forestlands surrounding urban regions. This is the reality both for the historic and the natural environment of cities in Greece and Cyprus.
Since we live in this situation, we have chosen to present the specific subject of this issue through a series of topics, which may contribute positively to the general concern about cities.
Thus, the reader of this issue will walk through the neighbourhoods of Gazochori and Psyrre, so as to get acquainted with the problems and denote the post dated or occasional interventions of the competent authorities; will be introduced to the refugees’ houses which day by day are lost from the city’s web giving way to massive inhospitable buildings; will understand how one of Greece’s most well protected historical settlements, that of Hydra, faces the danger of alteration due to continuous and incompatible construction. Walking the city roads observantly the reader will discover significant buildings of the ’30s and the postwar period, which lack protection, while the shells of buildings, impressive remnants of a different architectural reality, will draw his attention. Very rarely one shall come across green spaces and open public spaces, and wherever one can find such areas one will discern a sense of bewilderment in the actions taken for their development and enhancement. Unlike other areas, the archaeological sites within cities always have the benefit of a more meticulous approach.
Careful observation will reveal minute flowers growing in the most unexpected places, birds, sculptures of another period, derelict walls forming painting tableaux, pigeons walking along with pedestrians and pollution superimposing everything but being visible just on the marbles of ancient monuments. It is with great content that one can see restored buildings and also entire neighbourhoods, especially those of Nicosia, regenerated in order to receive mostly young owners. In the reader’s course, bicyclists will pass him by, since in Greece, too, roads for bicyclist begin to appear along motorways. One will also walk ways, which will reveal that time runs but also stays still.
Beyond the boundaries of the two countries, Greece and Cyprus, the reader will reach Rome through the cinematic glance, will experience York, where the historic city is bursting with life, will reach Liverpool, which is preparing to be the next European Capital of Culture, and will end up in poetic Leiden, where lyrics of poems are not written in paper but on the walls of buildings.
In fact, if one comes back to visit MOnuMENTA again, one will discover other parts and features of cities, since the issue will be constantly enriched with new texts.
Syn-thesis , Compositions of words, images, views, problems, experiences that comprise precisely the substance of cities…