Public Transportation in Thessaloniki: Adding a Resilience Lens with the 100RC CoLab

With a colourful history dating back more than 2,000 years, Thessaloniki is an archaeologist’s dream. A transportation planner might not share the same sentiment for Greece’s second-largest city, however. Construction of the Thessaloniki Metro has been ongoing for the better part of two decades, primarily due to new archaeological finds at multiple points along the way.

The first phase of the metro system is planned to open in 2020, along the busy Egnatia Street corridor. The new line holds potential for transformational impact – improving traffic congestion but also unlocking economic opportunities for different parts of the city, increasing efficiency and productivity, and creating more value in the land around the infrastructure. By integrating a resilience lens, the metro investment could contribute to mitigating a broad range of Thessaloniki’s shocks and stresses – from the obvious transportation-related, to seismic risk, urban heat island effect, and the economic hardship remaining from the country’s financial crisis.

In June, Chief Resilience Officer George Dimarelos deployed 100RC’s signature CoLab tool to develop multidisciplinary solutions that would not only leverage the opportunity for 2020, but also align it with the city’s Resilience Strategy. More than 40 participants joined Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, the Resilient Thessaloniki office, and 100 Resilient Cities in discussing the very real opportunities to regenerate a central part of the city, and the collaboration needed in order to make them a reality.

The CoLab is a new tool from 100RC which convenes multiple stakeholders and partners in the pursuit of solving complex urban challenges. Read how previous CoLabs have informed decision-making and helped cities work toward implementing concrete resilience projects.

Five main proposals emerged from the CoLab’s design sprint, a rapid conceptualization of new ideas and solutions addressing the opportunities for Egnatia corridor as a result of the Metro investment.

  • Egnatia STORE (Safe Transport-Oriented Redevelopment): A framework for integrating risk and disaster mitigation into the planning and operations of Egnatia Street, taking a holistic view of Thessaloniki’s shocks and stresses as well as the assets along the Egnatia corridor available during times of crisis.
  • Egnatia Corridor Masterplan: A concrete vision for the redevelopment and revitalization of Egnatia Street with special focus on creating new public space, redesigning for multimodal streets, linking cultural and archaeological assets along the corridor, and aligning with the new waterfront redevelopment along Thermaikos Bay
  • Rebranding “Egnatia Boulevard”: A city placemaking and marketing approach to create a unique identity for a revitalized corridor which bridges new and old, historical assets with modern ones. The Metro stations, their design, and cultural programming would serve as a unique asset to bolster the new Egnatia identity; that in conjunction with new public spaces and repurposed vacant buildings would attract new artists, entrepreneurs, and business owners.
  • Digital Egnatia Corridor: A concept to develop Egnatia into a pilot ‘smart street.’ Data collected via free public Wi-Fi and sensors would be available to the city and its citizens for better planning and decision-making, as well as for the development of mobile applications and related services.
  • Egnatia Redevelopment Corporation/Authority: A special-purpose organization to oversee the redevelopment of Egnatia Street. The independent body would move quickly to develop a holistic vision, strategy, and plan to respond to the impending opening of the metro system.

The Thessaloniki CoLab succeeded in bringing together and aligning the priorities of key stakeholders of the metro project. We are excited to see Resilient Thessaloniki office take the lead in coordinating a suite of projects which have the potential to reshape both the landscape and resilience of the city. 100RC has committed continued technical expertise, and 100RC Platform Partners who attended the CoLab – such as CISCO, GIB, frog, AT Osborne and ESRI – will support the city through pro bono service and solution development.