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Theses

La marche plurielle : aménagements, pratiques et expériences des espaces publics au centre d'Athènes

Abstract : Walking increasingly appears at the forefront of urban policies and city promotional campaigns. It is not by random that this most natural practice of human beings has become a promising field of innovation and research while at the same time being at the heart of land use planning policy addressing public urban spaces. As a perfectly versatile part of urban transport systems, an effective physical exercice and a medium of artistic expression relating the body with different ways of experiencing the city, walking is a constituent element of the foundations of urban social life. For over a century, walking prospered in the twisting streets of the medieval city. When cities made way large avenues, became menaced by the ascendency of the car. After the 1970s, howhever , it came triumphantly back in specially reserved zones as well managed promenades in city centres. Walking seemed to have finally found its place in urban planning. Still, the question remained : has the planning can be informed by further analysing the relation between walking and the environments in which this activity takes place. Focussing on the historical centre of Athens, the research take a three-pronged approach. First, the shift in public policies after the 1970 so as to benefit the practice of walking is examined. While the growth in interest in walking by land use planners during this period is widely recognised, this thesis provides a more detailed examination of how the practice of walking was approached in their projects and visions. The analysis describes how public spaces were shaped during forty years of intense pedestrianization, and how these projects where themselves inscribed in more general programmes aimed at boosting the touristic and cultural profile of the zones around the Acropolis. At the same time that the multiplication of projects in favour of walking was orchestrated by a diverse range of interest, so it also gave rise to new actors in the arena of urban planning. The analysis also shows how these projects impacted on the character and function of public space. Although kwow-how in pedestrianization operations advanded over this 40-year period, it it shown that the pratice of walking was largely ignored. The second approach used in this thesis focuses on walking in areas whose uses and image do not fit with the prevailing image of a commercial-touristic public space landscape. It is argued that the interest of these spaces lies in the fact that they are the centre of controversies arising from the transformations currently occuring in the land uses and the landscape pf the city centre. In which ways and why is walking thriving in Athinas street and Omonoia square, which – despite being criticized for beeing ‘ degraded ’and ‘ chaotic ’ – are managing to attract a surprisingly mixed street life ? By means of close observation of walking the richness of practices in public space related history of the places, land uses and every day street life revealed. If walking depends of collective practices, it is also a personal affair. The deeper understanding of the way that people experience walking and give meaning to places leads to a better understanding of how places function in time. This can in turn help to inform the way in which such places are designed. Ambiance, habits, moods and memories create the fashion in which we inhabit public space. By means of accompanying twenty Athenians during their routine walks, the third approach used in this thesis reveals these subjects’ range of reasons and ways of interacting with their environment.
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Dimitra Kanellopoulou. La marche plurielle : aménagements, pratiques et expériences des espaces publics au centre d'Athènes. Géographie. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015PA010655⟩. ⟨tel-02494122v2⟩

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