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International Architecture Ideas Competition: Redefine the western waterfront of Thessaloniki

Founded in 315 BC and named after princess Thessalonike of Macedon, the sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki is a historic city that has developed through the ages. Thanks to its location at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, Thessaloniki became a multi-ethnic metropolis. Hellenes, Romans, Ottoman Turks, Slavs and Jews passed through the centuries, leaving their mark on the city's culture and architectural style.

The west coast, including the port of the city, used to be a manufacturing zone and is now uniquely located to spearhead the development of the city and its regeneration into a vibrant regional and international pole. Unfortunately, today the west waterfront area is an underused urban area representing probably one of the most underdeveloped areas of the city. It weakens the city’s image, livability, and productivity. Several past initiatives to facilitate the change towards urban growth and productivity have not been successful. Τhe challenge still remains.

The Architecture Competition “ArXellence 2” is an Open & Free, One-stage International Ideas Competition that aims to highlight innovative design as the ideal tool for the success of the new Central Business District (CBD) of Thessaloniki. The competition is sponsored & organized by ALUMIL and endorsed by the International Union of Architects (UIA). It will be conducted according to the UNESCO Standard Regulations for International Competitions in Architecture and Town Planning and the UIA best practice recommendations.




In more detail, the subject of the competition is the design of a new CBD at a wider area of 120.000 m2 behind the port. The area’s advantageous location next to the city’s port, near the historic center of the city and quite close to important road and rail networks, as well as near industrial zones and logistics infrastructure, offers opportunities for sustainable economic development. Moreover, the area will be upgraded significantly upon the completion of major prospective infrastructure projects, as the upgrade of the port, Thessaloniki’s new Metro network and the potential development of the western suburban railway. Last but not least, Thessaloniki’s airport ongoing redevelopment will result (by 2021) to an expanded modern airport with a significantly increased capacity, connecting the city, further, with the world.

Thus, with the potential of redevelopment being strong, the Architectural Ideas Competition “ArXellence 2” represents a major challenge of urban regeneration. It is the first, and most decisive, step towards meeting the expectations of a new, cosmopolitan Thessaloniki. It is hoped that visionary competition schemes will pave the way for the regeneration of this decaying urban area through local government initiatives and private sector participation. Confirming its gravity and importance to the public, the competition runs under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Central Macedonia Regional Government, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Technical Chamber of Greece (Central Macedonia Branch) and the Architects Council of Thessaloniki.

The competition started on the 9 March 2020 and the registrations will be open until 25 May 2020. The due date for submissions is on 15 October 2020. The prizes will amount to 60.000 € and the 6 winners, along with 4 honorary mentions, will be announced on 25 November 2020. The awards ceremony will be followed by a 20-day exhibition in Thessaloniki Town Hall and a similar exhibition in Thessaloniki Music Hall. To get the official UIA approved competition brief and to register, please visit the competition’s website here.
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