From ‘void’ to ‘voidness’: a trans-scalar and relational approach to urban voids in post-industrial cities. Learning from Eleonas, Athens, Greece.
Primary supervisor: Dr Susan Moore
Secondary supervisor: Prof. Camillo Boano
Starting date: October 2016
Completion date: September 2020
Post-industrial urban environments are often constituted of a patchwork of urbanisms that result in the creation of urban voids; large inactive and neglected areas where key spatial, social and environmental factors are ignored.
Highlighting the importance of a relational and trans-scalar approach to planning, this thesis uses the ‘urban void’ known as Eleonas in Athens, Greece to investigate the idea that there is a transformative function proper to these spaces. This function, termed ‘voidness’ is defined as the capacity of urban voids to induce transformative urban change across scales and across urban form, activities and socio-economic contexts. Hence, throughout this thesis there is a gradual shift from the investigation of an epistemological object: the ‘urban void’, to the exploration of an ontological process: the ‘voidness’ and its implications in daily life and planning practice.
Drawing from the disciplines of Urban Morphology, Urban Metabolism and Urban Political Ecology, I trace the transformation of Eleonas in space and time and track how the notion of the ‘void’ is conceptualised at the scales of the region, the municipality and the neighbourhood. Using mappings, observations and interviews with policy makers, residents, local workers and academics I examine under what conditions areas are perceived as ‘voids’ and how this affects the decision-making of the local planning administrations. Furthermore, I explore the derelict and decaying morphology of urban voids, the dwindling local economic activity, the conflicts between local reality and regional planning and critically addresses the dismissal of these spaces as ‘backyards for unwanted uses.’
It was found that the conceptualisation of spaces as ‘urban voids’ is subjective and changes depending on the scale of investigation. Whether they are considered in a positive or negative light, these differing perceptions skew decision-making towards specific actions and developments often with catastrophic spatial, social and economic consequences. Hence, a reconceptualisation of the urban void is suggested and more appropriate planning tools and policies are proposed towards a more context-oriented approach to spaces such as Eleonas.
Dimitrios is an architect, urban planner and researcher currently working as a Research and Teaching Assistant at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL.
He completed his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Architecture, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels, Belgium including a one-year exchange at the Department of Architecture and Building Sciences of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. He then pursued a PhD in Planning Studies at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL which he completed in September 2020.
Rooted in Architecture, he gradually oriented his research towards urbanism and urban planning specifically in the fields of Urban Morphology, Metabolism and Sustainability to investigate the complex interdependencies between people, buildings, infrastructures and flows that shape the urban form. His current research interests relate to post-industrial urban environments and more specifically the perception of spaces in post-industrial contexts that are common but not well articulated and hence, poorly managed.
Dimitrios is currently teaching at the Bartlett School of Planning and the Bartlett School of Architecture and is involved in various research projects related to urban manufacturing in London and in Europe, the nature of suburban areas and the application of Urban Metabolism principles through planning and urban design.
- Publications and other work
Domenech, T., Bleischwitz, R., Doranova, A., Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D., & Roman, L. (2019). Mapping Industrial Symbiosis Development In Europe_ typologies of networks, characteristics, performance and contribution to the Circular Economy. Conservation & Recycling. Resources, Conservation & Recycling 141, 76-98.
Barrantes Chaves, K., King Lam Chung, C., Hincapie Trivino, M., Juangbhanich, A., Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D., (2018) Taking Planning Forward (Third Edition): PhD Research Projects at the Bartlett School of Planning, 2017/18, The Bartlett School of Planning
King Lam Chung, C., Fiorentino, S., Juangbhanich, A., López Franco, M., Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D., Rivero Villar, A., (2017) Taking Planning Forward (Second Edition): PhD Research Projects at the Bartlett School of Planning, 2016/17, The Bartlett School of Planning
Vanin, F., Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D., Van de Wall, R., (2016). BRIDGES: Connections where line become urban spaces., LoUIsE - ULB, ISSN: 2294-8880.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2016). “Eleonas: Urban Voids as Opportunity for a Water Sensitive Approach to the Design of Cities”, Athens: ATINER’S Conference Paper Series, No: PLA2015-1809. ISSN: 2241-2891, http://www.atiner.gr/papers/PLA2015- 1809.pdf
Moore, S., Trudeau, D., (n.d.). After New Urbanism: From exception to norm.
Domenech, T., Doranova, A., & Smith, M. (2018). Cooperation fostering industrial symbiosis: market potential, good practice and policy actions. European Commission.
Presentations, proceedings and papers
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2019, April). Scale and Perceptions of Urban Voids in Post-Industrial Cities. Learnings from Eleonas in Athens, Greece. Paper presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. - USA.
Silva L., C., Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2019, April). Urban Voids, Interstitial Spaces and Vacant Lands: An Emerging Agenda for the Vague Geography of Cities. Paper session at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. - USA.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2017, April). The Morphology of Urban Voids: A Metabolic Approach to Cohesion. The Case of Eleonas in Athens. Paper presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston - USA.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2017, March). The Morphology of Urban Voids: A Metabolic Approach to Cohesion. The Case of Eleonas in Athens. Paper presented at Losing Ground: On holes and other absences. University of Warwick - UK.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros, D. (2015, June). “Eleonas: Urban Voids as Opportunity for a Water Sensitive Approach to the Design of Cities”, Paper presented at the 5th Annual International Conference on Urban Studies & Planning, Athens - GR.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros D. (2015). Eleonas: Urban Voids as Opportunity for a Water Sensitive Approach to the Design of Cities. Master’s thesis (supervisor: Casabella Alvarez Nadia), Faculty of Architecture La Cambre - Horta, Université Libre de Buxelles - ULB, Brussels, Belgium.
Panayotopoulos-Tsiros D. (2014). Land-Use around Metro Stations: The Case of Oroshimachi in Sendai, Japan. Unpublished COLLABS Research Thesis (supervisor: Masashige Motoe), Department of Architecture and Building Sciences, Tohoku University. Sendai, Japan