The vision of Thessaloniki’s waterfront development for the Western industrial part of the city, was based on defining an urban design prototype. The Contour Effect exudes urban regeneration and sustainability. It focuses on the seamless connection between the built environment and the natural or artificial landscape. The proposed Central Business District is characterized by the harmonic coexistence of pedestrian flows, commercial and cultural activity, green open spaces, and leisure activities.
The pedestrian and bicycle routes unfold across the length of the site by following parallel or different paths in terms of plan and section. The architectural dialogue of those two strips results in the creation of green areas covered with small plants or trees, water surfaces, hard surfaces of different materials, and urban space consisting of numerous smaller routes or plazas.
The building volumes are perceived as contours. They are seamlessly connected to the ground while the upper levels recede, creating visually elevated gardens. The landscape becomes one with the buildings’ outlines; a condition that creates outdoor spaces, canopies, or balconies at different levels. The volumetric approach was based on a contemporary city skyline that focuses on maintaining the ground level sunny and airy, while providing the site with the space for the growth of numerous plants and trees. The shape of the volumes allows the circulation of fresh air and supports proper sunlight absorption from building facades. Water surfaces can be found on every level of the proposal, to underline the location’s visual connection with the waterfront and at the same time to improve the microclimate. In smaller scale, the use of environmentally friendly technology and application of specific materials such as kinetic energy tiles for parts of routes, and solar energy panels on rooftops or plazas, focuses on a contemporary perception of energy efficiency.
The outline of the proposed skyline could be described as a “curve” with fluctuations that arise from the interaction of building volumes and landscape. The characteristic of the curve is its acne at the eastern part, where a skyscraper overlooks the city of Thessaloniki. The Contour Effect refers to a contemporary city, where building programs can be spread on different layers, mixed with outdoor spaces and pockets of nature.
The building program is divided among 4 distinct volumes. The proposed built space as well as all outdoor areas interact with pre-existing buildings, which are perceived as “islands” surrounded by green spaces, squares, and pedestrian flows. A basic axis of pedestrian and bicycle flow covers most of the site’s length and expands towards the two sides of the elongated masterplan to allow a smooth circulation of visitors.
The Porto Palace hotel constitutes a border between the residential zone at the west side of the site and the commercial or public one at the east side. The residents can enter the west zone directly through discreet accesses next to Porto Palace. An open amphitheatre is positioned close to Benis Tannery and functions as a main entrance to the commercial zone. Visitors can either descend to the submerged ground floor or ascend to the 1st floor, where exterior lounge areas are seamlessly connected with the main route and the building volumes.
The second main entrance is located at the corner of 26th Oktovriou and Kefallinias street and has a proximity to the port of Thessaloniki. The skyscraper that emerges from the landscape itself, dominates the east part of the masterplan and is rooted to an ensemble of plazas and public areas. The main axis of movements begins from the base of the skyscraper and functions as the backbone of the proposal, as in connects all routes, as well as the buildings with each other.
Between the two antipodal access points, supportive entrances, connect existing street axes to the main route and site landmarks, contribute to the integration of the proposed masterplan to the existing urban fabric.
Access by car is also foreseen; however, the architectural proposal aims at creating an open park where the movement of pedestrians and bikes is a priority. Cars enter or leave the complex from 3 access points, that lead directly to the underground parking area, with multiple elevators and stairs to ensure the ease of access.