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Kerameikos Metaxourgeio, An Urban History

View of Acropolis from KM, Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010



As part of our KM Research Projects, where we aim to introduce a more holistic approach to Kerameikos Metaxourgeio (KM) and the future of Athens' City Center, we believe it is important to be aware of the urban and social history specific to KM. Together with the KM Mapping Project, the history of KM can serve as a further tool to adopt a more educated view on the evolution of of the area.



Avdi square, KM Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010



OLIAROS commissioned Panagiota Taxiarxi, a PHD graduate in Urban History at the NTUA (National Technical University of Athens) to collate a short urban and social history of KM that can be easily read and serves as an interesting introduction to the KM area, a historical part of the City of Athens. Please select either language to download the history document in English or in Greek



Ancient Kerameikos Site, Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010


KM is situated at important cross roads between Plato's Academy, the Acropolis and routes leading towards Piraeus. By its very location KM has always played a central and strategic role in the development of Athens' layout.


KM's current urban tissue certainly reflects its long and varied history with subsequent uses that have shaped its layout and buildings. The area is rich in architectural and urban examples that range from Athens’ Ancient Kerameikos Cemetery, to Neo-Classical mansions introduced in mid 19th Century (built following an initial plan at the time to place the King's Palace in the Kerameikos area), to working class houses of the 19th century which were built to support the industrial development of Athens.



The Breeder Gallery, KM Photograph by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010



View of Iassonos Street, KM Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010



Later on, KM included 1950's tool shops, 1960-70s apartment blocks and culminates today with a potential to open up a new architectural chapter for the area focusing on the 46% of empty or run down buildings and plots of KM. (for more details please see KM Mapping Project)



1930's Architecture in KM, Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010



Paramythias, Pedestrian Street in KM, Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010


Athens like KM, has grown and developed dynamically based on need and urban planning initiatives dating back to the mid 19th Century. KM has since suffered a gradual degradation since the 2nd World War, and during the rapid urbanization of Athens in the decades that followed, KM attracted lower income and minority groups due to cheap and affordable housing and the offer of employment in industrial workshops nearby.


The subsequent fragmentation of plots of land (the “ab indiviso” ownership), the small width of KM streets and also the underground archaeological richness constituted preventive factors for the construction of high rise buildings during the ’50's-’70's, when the counter value phenomenon was very common. The above factors, in combination with the absence of greenery and public areas, gradually led to the further degradation of KM.


In the 1970s-1980s a significant number of KM residents who had long settled in the area moved in search of a better quality of life. To this day, 46% of the buildings in KM are in a degenerative state and empty. Given its diverse architectural heritage and culture, OLIAROS believes that KM has great potential to become a socially inclusive model neighborhood.



Contemporary KM, Photograph by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010


KM has always been a mixed use neighborhood, a combination of a popular district supported by trade and production. KM has a unique combination of buildings and demographic. Today’s residents are occupied in a wide range of professional activities: freelancers, small traders, creatives, employees of the private and public sector, and work people of all specializations. The presence of small and medium sized businesses, a few of which have a long-time tradition in the area (e.g. repair shops), as well as public services and authorities is also significant.



Restoring KM's listed buildings, Photography by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis 2010

Today KM is facing many of the challenges the rest of the Athens City Center does; however, KM does enjoy some special conditions, like the human scale of its urban tissue, its diverse population, its proximity to the center and the public transportation, a 46% of derelict and empty plots. These and other conditions in the area do make KM special, offering an opportunity to identify contemporary ways and methodologies to re energize KM and the Athens City Center as a whole.


OLIAROS believes that with the right approach and collaboration with both private and public sectors, KM can become a leading socially inclusive model neighborhood.


For more information please contact info@oliaros.com

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