By Maria Paravantes
A total of eight workshops headed by architects, environmentalists and builders came to a close on Sunday, when the Ecoweek Crete 2016 program reached its end at Agios Nikolaos, Crete, producing new ideas, fresh perspectives and hands-on results.
The week-long series of events aimed at sustainable development through architecture and landscape planning saw dozens of local and foreign architecture students and volunteers work together with experts to create or reinvent parts of Agios Nikolaos, including schools, open spaces and the waterfront.
The man behind Ecoweek, Elias Messinas, explains that the idea is to offer people – locals and professionals – the tools to work towards a better environment, one which can be passed on to the next generations with the least amount of damage.
“Environmental conditions and issues affect the city and particularly in this time of crisis, it is vital that we empower people with the knowledge that there are solutions, there are ways to achieve sustainability without huge budgets, and in short periods of time make changes that will positively affect their daily lives,” he says.
Some of the highlights of the workshops included works on the Limni eco-site, where students worked with stone, wood, straw and earth to construct an outdoor oven and a free-style sitting area among olive trees. Elsewhere, participants worked with natural materials to construct a small residential structure using ecological materials such as earth tubes, wood and stone.
Another workshop explored the interrelation between tourist behavioural patterns and the environment with participants designing, restoring and regenerating sites around the city. Two workshops focused on interventions at public schools, including the creation of leisure spaces and learning gardens.
On a more theoretical level, one of the workshops came up with proposals for the revamp of the coastal walkway and road towards a more functional, operational and beneficial outcome.
The plans and designs produced last week will be handed over to local and municipal authorities, university urban planning and design departments and relevant bodies in hopes that some of the projects may at some point either be implemented or ignite further research.
Ecoweek 2016 Crete was made possible on the initiative of the G & A Mamidakis Foundation – bluegr Hotels & Resorts in collaboration with the Agios Nikolaos Municipality, the Ecoweek Network, the Lasithi Region and LoveGreece.com. From Agios Nikolaos, Ecoweek travels to Kosovo and Israel in September, Romania in October and Thessaloniki in November.