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Appeal for the rescue of the Zografou Estate
Natalia Margaritouli, architect

Rescue appeal emits one of the last open green urban spaces in one of the most densely populated municipalities of Athens, Zografou. The Zografou Municipality intends to buy the Zografou estate in a quite high price, in order to develop the area, by building a shopping mall, a multiplex and underground parking space! As if the area is not enough built and has no shopping and entertainment facilities!

The Zografou estate occupies an area of 20,000 m2, 10,000 m2 of which belong to the beneficiaries of I. Zografos, the landowner of farmlands that existed in the area, before its suburban housing development in the mid-20th century. The rest of the estate was offered to the Municipality and consists of a park, a playground and a municipal nursery.

During the decade 1910-1920 the two villas of the Zografou family were built in the Zografou estate; one has been donated to the Municipality and now houses a Municipal nursery and the other belongs to the beneficiaries of the family. During the same period the nearby villa Vouga was also built, where cultural activities are held today. The villas Zografou were all classified as listed buildings in 2003 by the Ministry of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works.

Citizens and municipal movements claim the protection, preservation and classification of the estate as a listed site of historical value and exceptional natural beauty, as well as its expropriation and its return to the public. Nevertheless, until today nothing has been done for the protection of the particular high flora of the site and against the deforestation executed by the beneficiaries whose aim is the sale and exploitation of the site.

In October 2006 citizens and municipal political parties made appeal to the Council of the State and to the 1st Council of Recent Monuments of the Ministry of Culture, claiming the official decision of classification of all the historical buildings and the Zografou estate. The 1st Council of Recent Monuments made a positive proposal to the Central Council of Recent Monuments according to the law No.3028/2002 "On the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in General".

In November 2006 the citizens’ council for the rescue of the Villa Zografou was set up; they campaign to increase public awareness by organizing conversations, collecting of signatures, cooperating with similar citizens movements and appealing to the Council of the State.

Maybe the only way to rescue the site is its expropriation or direct purchase by the Municipality in its real price, with the financial contribution of the State, a gesture proving the political will for real protection of the green urban spaces through a master plan of design and development of such spaces in the city.

The Zografou estate must be saved from speculation and can be part of a wider network of public, urban, green spaces linking the University Campus, the Technical University Campus and the Metropolitan Park of Goudi!

n.margaritouli@elta-net.gr

23/02/2007
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