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‘‘A journey on the traces of fire’’

Part 2 Project 2014
Matina Vrettou
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham UK
This project stems from research on an area in the Western Peloponnese (Greece), affected by extensive forest fires arising spontaneously every year, with disastrous consequences for the natural environment.

The area studied is at once unique – its severe depopulation in recent times having led to the extensive spread of the fires – and of broader relevance to many other Mediterranean localities with similar ecosystems, naturally vulnerable to spontaneous fires.

The aim is to rejuvenate a site in this area through the very process and remnants of the fires, in an attempt to shift perceptions from the fires’ negative connotations to their inspirational potential and aspirational qualities.

On a practical level, this also enables the enhancement of the local economy through the integration of a unique natural environment and a phenomenon previously associated with devastation alone.

The proposal is intended to raise the environmental awareness of locals and visitors alike, using a new model of ecological tourism - educational both in terms of the information available and the experiencing of the fires aftermath through the architecture itself.

Further, the proposal offers a combination of research and innovation opportunities in the testing of new materials that utilize the energy left on site after the disaster in the form of biomass.

As such, there are three fundamental aspects to the project:

Awareness. A landscape memorial exposed to the fire raises visitors’ awareness of and engagement with the phenomenon.

Testing & Treatment. Areas dedicated to the research and development of new greener materials and technologies.

Here the accumulated products of the disaster - ash and charcoal /charred timber - can be transformed into ecological alternatives to conventional materials, such as concrete, fertilizers or thermal products.

Relief. Areas for rest and reflection that combine the existing thermal baths with eco-camping.

The proposal thus stands as a subtle intervention shaped by local cultures and practices AND a model for positively transforming environments and shifting perspectives in other areas around the Mediterranean exposed to this phenomenon, whilst promoting environmental research and management of the disastrous events.

Matina Vrettou

Tutor(s)

2014
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