• Recent experiences of urban ritual performances, inspired by Dimitris Pikionis's walkways in Athens.

      Tracada, Eleni; University of Derby (2018-08)
      Dimitris Pikionis (1887-1968), architect and teacher, started his career by proposing new architecture based on ‘trans Hellenic forms’ or transcendent continuing forms from antiquity to modern times. Pikionis’s acquaintance with Giorgio de Chirico led to his new approach of ‘Hellenism’ (or Greekness) through vernacular art in conjunction with Modernism. For several decades after Greece liberation from Turks, several architects proposed bizarre plans for the area around and on the top of the Acropolis, such as the proposal of a palace of the first king, in which the Parthenon was reduced to a mere decorative feature of the palace gardens. Several other proposals until early 1950s proposed archaeological park areas. However the search of Greekness had remained elusive and ambiguous in all these proposals. Only Dimitris Pikionis captured what many authors, suggested as the close relationship between nature and culture; the temples adored the gods of the earth and the plants, such as the olive tree. Dimitris Pikionis names as ‘homorhythmia’ the rhythm that governs collective forms of life, of the topography of the earth and of art and architecture. His masterplan of re-landscaping the area surrounding the Sacred Rock of Acropolis lets nature envelope the ancient ruins by obeying nature principles. Pikionis was inspired by the painters of his time such as Cezanne, Paul Klee and Giorgio de Chirico, but attends forms rather than colours. Athens has now re-discovered the work of Dimitris Pikionis and his teaching to his students in strong rooted Classicism and culture in relation to nature. He directed and supervised his students and workers building new urban pathways by using marble and stone fragments spread around the hill of the Acropolis from ruined temples and houses from Classic to Byzantine eras. His paths are still followed by locals and visitors. Recently these paths were tested by the author, her colleagues and students of arts and architecture, participating in Dance Architecture Spatiality, an Erasmus research project. Students were inspired by the paths and surrounding areas and created an urban ritual performance with the guidance of a well-known choreographer; people present in that area during rehearsals and the main performance became spontaneous participants and enjoyed a different urban and cultural walk to the top of a hill opposite to the Acropolis, a celebration of Classicism through modern human behaviours. In his Inhabiting Time, Juhani Pallasmaa also refers to the “device of time in architecture” by affirming that Pikionis’s pathways of natural and found man-made ancient stones “evoke a dense architectural narrative with a feeling of deep time; … the layering of styles and the juxtaposition of different uses and activities – commonplace and ceremonial, utilitarian and symbolic – place us comfortably in the continuum of lives through centuries”.