The concept of Urban Protocol names a strategy concerning the condition of Athens today. It would serve as an experimental pseudo-methodology that faces the condition of the city. The Urban Protocols are meant to introduce legal temporary occupancies of the abandoned city center that will be accepted and controlled by a municipal authority; the purpose of an Urban Protocol would be to establish cluster-like mikro-legislative constructions with communal functions. Urban Protocols are formed as systems of rules. Using a video game terminology we may say that the Urban Protocols are “play-tested” in the city, performed and improved via Internet. The system of rules they represent could be transformed and re-established easily.
A first example of Urban Protocol was proposed with the “Athens Terraces” project. The major part of this protocol was consisted by the legislative unification of the terraces of typical Athenian blocks; an existing, typical athenian block’s terrace is now divided to the number of buildings that form it. The protocol of a unified block would construct the communal representation of a unified legislative entity, the field of the block’s terraces. This unification may extend to other neighboring blocks or can be repeated elsewhere in the city. The unification can also be enriched by a covering system of sophisticated canopies. The project proposed a reuse of the existing metallic grids of the city for its cover. It can also include photovoltaic surfaces that could produce electricity for common use of the block’s inhabitants.
A second example of Urban Protocol was proposed by the Antonas office with the “Urban Hall” project. An area of the city was announced as open to a systematic change of function. The municipal authority or a selected voted board would be responsible for the programmatic change of function. A division of time makes here possible a the coexistence of different functions in the same space. The “Urban Hall” can become an open air public hospital for a month or program a music scene or a theater space depending to the decisions of its board.
The Urban Protocol challenges the relation between the city and the Internet; the concept of user would function better for its performance than the one of citizen. Nevertheless its most sophisticated part would have to deal with the relation between user and citizen. Its most challenging legislative part is ruled by the relationship between the Internet and the state; the Internet is understood as the quick functional basis for the formation, installation and function of an Urban Protocol.
Why could a city like Athens needs Urban Protocols in order to enter a phase of a new function? Scarcity made obvious that alternative initiatives were more welcomed than any bureaucratically conceived systematic action in the city. Nevertheless the initiatives cannot form a frame for a city change. The Urban Protocol would be the name of legislative schematization of urban initiatives. It function as an invitation to think the city in a different scale within the relation between a crucial municipality board and a power given to Internet users in order to operate in the city field.
The concepts of “provisional”, “improvisational”, “guerrilla”, “unsolicited”, “temporary”, “informal”, “DIY”, “unplanned”, “participatory”, “open-source”, used abundantly in Athens during the last years do not only name a trend of not canonical architecture. Architecture seems to propose its own end if we forget its power to produce programs. An uninteresting lessez-faire will be the result of such an idealization of the free initiative. A city was conceived as a system of coexistence and its legislative system is already old. The Urban protocol could be first and foremost the call for a new legislative phase for the city of the future. Athens is only a good example. ΑΑ