Self-organized Park Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigis str., Greece

The residents of Exarcheia neighbourhood, along with grassroots located in the area, converted a block into a self-organised green free space in a very densely populated neighbourhood of Athens.

Exarchia is a neighborhood at the centre of Athens, close to the historical building of the National Technical University of Athens. It’s a famous region, as many intellectuals and artists used to live in the neighborhood and many leftist, anarchist and antifascist grassroots are located there. As in the majority of Athens downtown neighborhoods, there is a major need of free green open spaces.  In 2008, in Exarchia a 15 years’ old boy was assassinated by the police (Alexandros Grigoropoulos). Major rebels erupted in Exarchia, as well as across Athens and other Greek big cities. For more than a month, apart from demonstrations, various occupation actions took place. Between Harilaou Trikoupi, Navarinou, Zoodochou Pigis and Didotou Streets there is a block that in 2009 was squatted and turned into a free space, self-managed park. In 1907 a clinic was built there, known as “Geroulaneion Institute” and later as “Smparouni Clinic”. In 1972, the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) bought the building, as the clinic was closed. The building was demolished during the '80s and TEE planned to build a new building for hosting its central offices, although the building was never constructed. In the '90s, TEE proposed to grant the block to the Municipality of Athens for creating a green space. TEE asks as reimbursement to get the permission to increase the building factor in another block it owns in Maroussi (North Athens). Although, this exchange was never realized and TEE leased the block to be used as an outdoor parking. Once the contract was ended in 2008, TEE expressed again its intention to build the block for hosting its offices. At that time, residents from the neighborhood, as well as other people from all over Athens, took the initiative to reclaim the block as a free green space. The Exarchia Residents Initiative, along with many other grassroots, was aware of the issue and worked for it the last 1,5 year. It was then when, in cooperation with the group "We, here and now for all of us", the “Self-managed Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigis park” (or “parking park”) was born, on 7th of March 2009. That day tens of people from all around Athens occupied the block, converting it into a green free space. At that time, a joint decision of TEE and the Municipality of Athens included the exchange of that block with Alexandras Avenue’s venue refugees’ apartment buildings. The  authority responsible for validating this decision was the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works. However, this exchange never happened. From the beginning of the project, an open assembly for the park's function was created and all the decisions were made collectively. The cement was broken, soil was transferred and trees and flowers were planted. Most of the plants were offered by the people. A playground was constructed as well as an open air amphitheater, where several cultural activities, public debates as well as films’ projections and children activities are hosted.  In November 2012, an urban vegetable garden was created, where educational workshops on the cultivation of land are provided. 
Basic Data
NameSelf-organized Park Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigis str., Greece
SiteMunicipality of Athens, Exarchia district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA block of 0.15 hectare that used to be used as a parking, was transformed to a green park in a densely populated area in the centre of Athens
Project Area (in hectares)0.15
Level of Investment (in USD)Community self-organised project
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected PopulationMunicipality of Athens: 655,780 Region of Attica: 3,812,330
Start Date07/03/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesTechnical Chamber of Greece from Greece
Relevant government actorsMunicipality of Athens

Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSelf-managed Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigis park or parking park,

Citizens, grassroots and organizations located in the neighborhood
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesThe residents of Exarcheia neighbourhood, along with grassroots located in the area, claimed and occupied a block for converting it into a green free space, instead of having another building built in a very densely populated neighbourhood of Athens.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The social movement reclaimed an open public space, occupied it and converted it into a self-managed open high green space, where plenty of activities are taking place.
Sources and Materials

Pournara S.I., 2013, Green, Public, Urban Areas
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Official site of the Self-managed Navarinou and Zoodochou Pigis park or parking park
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Geronikos D., 2012, We are making an orchard in the park of Navarino
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Other Documents

Social kitchen at the Park
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The Park
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The parking in Navarinou and Zoodohou Pigi str.
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The Navarinou Park in Exarchia
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Constructing the park (a)
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Constructing the park (b)
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Planting in the park
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Activities for children
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Meta Information
ContributorErmioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update11/03/2016