Participatory Workshops: Athens, a city for all ages

In the context of the Participatory Workshops that URBANA implements, we had the opportunity to work with another group that has traditionally been less involved in urban planning and decision-making. Specifically, under the program “Athens: A city for all ages”, we carried out experiential mapping in the neighbourhoods of Kypseli, Athens, with senior citizens-members of the Friendship Club of Kypseli, Kiou, Athens!

For whom is the city designed?

Mr Apostolos is 80 years old and lives in Ano Kypseli, Athens. Every morning he walks down the steep downslope of Kaukasou street to meet his friends in his neighbourhood’s Friendship Club. In the afternoon, though, he has to take the same way up to return home. His wife, Ms Matina, was climbing the same street 4 years ago carrying her groceries. When she arrived home, she told her husband: “this is the last time I go out to get bread”.

Older adults comprise the most marginalised age group in urban planning. According to research, the most important problems the elderly frequently meet in public spaces are traffic and high speed, pollution, dirty streets and spaces, and wrong directions. Others also have pointed out problems such as the lack of pedestrian bridges and green space. These problems can even result in deadly accidents. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in Greece, in 2020, the highest percentage (50,0%) of deceased pedestrians in road traffic accidents were people over 65 years old. Finally, the problems mentioned above affect the elderly’s mental health as they do not feel comfortable and safe getting around the city autonomously, restrict themselves at home, like Ms Matina, and gradually stop participating in public affairs.

Our project “Athens: A City For All Ages” aims to record the elderly’s experiences, needs, and desires in the city’s public space and support them in developing proposals for an all-ages-friendly city.

During the project:

  • We adapted/developed the participant mapping methodology for the elderly’s needs. The methodology includes recording the problems through exploratory walks, an innovative participatory research method where the participants become researchers themselves.
  • We actualised a cycle of 6 experiential workshops with seniors-members of the Friendship Club of Kypseli (Kiou).
  • We created a collective map with the problems of the neighbourhoods of Kypseli, highlighted by the participants and suggestions/strategies for resolution.
  • We wrote a Guidebook with the methodology and the conclusions from the pilot implementation of the project and presented it at the final event.

With our final event at the Friendship Club of Kypseli, the pilot implementation of the project Athens: A city for all ages has been completed. We presented the results of the project, exchanged opinions, and discussed how urban planning can take into consideration the elderly’s needs for the (re)designing of the city.

Our next goal is to implement broader participatory planning projects with the elderly in Kypseli and other cities of Greece, in order to highlight their everyday lives in contemporary cities and co-develop urban interventions with local agents.

→ Download the guide “Athes: A city for all ages” (in English) here

Location: Kypseli, Athens

Period: September 2022 – February 2023

Participants: members of the Friendship Club of Kypseli (Kiou)

The program was funded by the TIMA Foundation under the program Points of Support, with the support of the Social Solidarity Department of the Municipality of Athens.