Honorable Mention: Interview with Studio C+C & Studio 4215

1) Please tell us a few words about you and what motivated you to participate in the competition of Arxellence 2. Did you ever undertake/design a similar project (CBD) in the past?
a. Tell us a few words about the team that worked on the proposal.

Our competition entry was a collaboration between Studio C+C, Studio 4215 and two freelance architects. It was an interesting partnership, as we come from different parts of the world and have trained in schools and workplaces with very different design methodologies.


b. How were you informed about the competition of ArXellence 2?

We were informed of the Arxellence 2 competition through the Alumil newsletter and as a young practice, we were keen to challenge ourselves with a project of this stature. The pandemic made the last year a difficult one for everyone and we found the competition to be an opportunity for us to express ourselves creatively. 


c. Did you ever undertake/design a similar project in the past?

Although many of us in the Team have worked on a similar Project scale, the historic buildings and the mix of uses was certainly a novel challenge. Our attempt with ‘City’s New Pulse’ was to bring together our multi- cultural and multi- disciplinary perspectives to solving urban issues and place making.


First plate of the honorable mention of ArXellence 2: City's New Pulse, created by Studio C+C / Studio 4215

2) Could you give us a description of your proposal? How did you approach the project and what was the main idea of your design?
a. Describe in a few words the structure of the CBD you designed (the main characteristics of your synthesis).
b. Describe the main idea of your proposal.
c. What difficulties did you face?
d. What would you say is the most innovative feature of your proposal?

The site as well fitting in the 400,000 Sq.m. brief was complex and challenging. As a team we believe that constraints and defined boundaries help shape a project. 

Our vision for the Western Waterfront development was focused on extending the city limits towards the port and creating a place of opportunities for the city of Thessaloniki and its people to live and work, to learn and share. And hence the name of our proposal ‘City’s new pulse’.

We were really inspired by the Greek way of building respectfully around historical structures and their emphasis on creating urban spaces for community. Our strategy was to extend the existing city grid into the site and intermeshing these axes with the historical structures to create a pedestrian route, we refer to as the ‘urban loop’.

The Urban Loop, widens and narrows across the length of the site, creating a public realm complete with varied experiences. The flow of movement on ground level along the spine allows for different types of activities and events. The scale of the plazas is not daunting, but experiential. The plazas have a sense of familiarity, with spaces narrow and wide, shaded and open, green and paved, very similar to city plazas of Southern Europe.

The idea of the Loop transcends three- dimensionally, as the buildings alongside the spine interconnect across various levels in a fluid movement and are strategically punctuated at the plazas. The layering of semi- public and private land-use, atop the public realm, enriches the diversity and user- friendly character of the development. 

Considering the footprint and height of existing buildings in the city of Thessaloniki, we had to be very careful that the buildings required to accommodate the requested project brief, do not seem daunting and intimidating to the city and its residents.

Second plate of the honorable mention of ArXellence 2: City's New Pulse, created by Studio C+C / Studio 4215

3) What do you think made your idea stand out and why? What are the experiences you gained from the competition of ArXellence 2?

The design scheme, with its mix of land-uses and density distribution in each phase, is anchored in the three pillars of sustainability: Social, Economic and Environmental. 

The masterplan follows both a top-down and a bottom-up approach as it responds to both the needs of the city and its people. The philosophy is not limited to ‘design for today and adapt to tomorrow’, but to also leave a legacy for the future generations.

Our proposal accommodates an ambitious building programme but at the same time, bestows over two- thirds of the site to the city, as a much-needed all-year-round usable public open space. We believe our people centric approach and the intention to give back to the community, made ‘City’s New Pulse’ stand out.

We ventured onto this competition locked in our homes, during the pandemic. Our weekly virtual meetings and discussions were rich with ideas and explorations and as a Team we learnt immensely from each other’s design thinking and perspectives. 

The presentations of the other nine awarded proposals in the prize distribution ceremony, also gave us an insight into the multiple ways of approaching the same design problem – a wide spectrum from conservative approaches to radial solutions. 

The project: