The birth and evolution of ‘Do-It- Yourself urbanism’ in Greece, case study Athens
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The planning field for a long period of time followed a top-down approach and it was controlled by urban planners and the authorities (eg. Somarakis & Stratigea, 2016). But since 1960 this way of thinking was criticized and bottom-up approaches emerged, that would incorporate the opinion of the citizens into the planning system (Serraos, 2015). Hence, during this period of time Do-It-Yourself urbanism arose that is now driven from the citizens themselves by intervening to the city and reclaiming their right for a livable and user-friendly city (Iveson, 2013). In this thesis the main research question is how Do-It-Yourself (DIY) urbanism in Greece (and especially in Athens) started and how it has been evolved through the years. In more particular, it is studied what were the explanations of the development of DIY urbanism in Greece, what is the aim of the initiators and if it has changed through the years. Last but not least, it was studied the relationship between the municipality of Athens and the selected urban initiatives, if the municipality of Athens has identified this kind of urbanism in the urban fabric and how it reacts to it. Also, it was studied how the selected urban initiatives perceive the stance of the local authorities. Studying the existing literature for the Do-It-Yourself urbanism, we understood that on theoretical level it was used approaches about the production of space and more importantly about the right of the citizens to their city (Lefebvre, 1968). As Lefebvre proposed that the citizens ought to make their space through appropriation and their participation to the decision-making procedures. Also, in theoretical level they were used theories for the criticism of the top-down approach in planning, governance through community theories, the neoliberalism model and the economic crisis of the South European countries are the answer of the development of the DIY urbanism. Hence it was expected that the above mentioned theories were the driving forces of the DIY urbanism and regarding the goals of the urban initiatives are focusing not only at the improvement of their built environment but also the improvement of the social networks at their neighborhood. Regarding the expectations for the relationship between the local authorities and the initiators based on the literature are in a quandary. In Athens, Greece the assumptions for the development of the DIY urbanism were confirmed and it was also added the development of the Greek cities and the problems that emerged such as high density, fragmented and limited public space. Regarding the second research question, the assumptions about the goals of the urban initiatives were confirmed, as the selected groups aim for the amelioration of their built environment and then the strengthening of the social ties. Moreover, after the strike of the economic and refugees crisis, their goals were directed to solidarity in order to aid the weaker socially fellow citizens. Last but not least, regarding the relationship between the local authorities and the selected urban initiatives, it was found that municipality of Athens attempts to follow a more collaborative model of governance and include civil society. It recognizes the presence of urban initiatives and has taken measures for their support such as creating 'SynAthina' platform and office. From the other side through the interviews it was found that the initiators perceived that there is still a barrier between the local authorities and the groups for example due to bureaucracy and the nature of the character of the groups.