Candidate – Greece
Submission by: Athens Municipality and Japanese Embassy initiative /JTI Hellas support
Project name: Japanese Garden – Niirides Park
Park in Athens
Planting area: 3.500 m2
Stakeholders: Athens Municipality and Japanese Embassy initiative /JTI Hellas support
Planted: 40 trees / 2.000 shrubs and perennials
Japanese garden /Niriides park is easily accessible from neighboring areas. Surrounded by arterial routes and secondary roads, easily accessible and welcoming, the park can be transformed into a pole of attraction for Athenians and tourists. Niriides park is a refreshing green site within the busy urban fabric, surrounded by significant establishments, buildings and museums for the city of Athens. Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, which is located north of the park, is considered the ‘Museum Lane’ of Athens due to the number of museums and cultural buildings situated along the boulevard. At the north side of the park stands the National Gallery of Athens, which was recently renovated, considered to be one of the most emblematic buildings of postmodern architecture in the city alongside the 5-star Hilton Hotel. The Byzantine Μuseum and Athens Conservatoire are adjacent to the site, highlighting the cultural ‘core’ surrounding our chosen location.
The main circulation path of the park offers the opportunity to create a wondrous, mysterious and exploratory strolling garden with adjacent meandering paths constructed of crushed gravel and scattered rocks carefully placed around the dry river. Paths are an integral part of the Japanese garden,carefully arranged to lead visitors to the best views of the garden. Rocks and manicured shrubs, cloud – like formations, framed pathways characterize the movement within the park as a moon-gate made of climbing Wisterias along wooden arches,fascinates the visitors walking through a small bamboo grove at the northwest side of the park. The existing Pine Tree at the main entrance of the park is meticulously manicured in order to become the Welcoming Pine that leads the visitors to the garden. Cloud – clipped shrubs and granite benches are creating a space of gathering, serenity and seclusion, under the shadow of the Welcoming Pine. Gravel and granite rocks are used to represent the flowing water of a stream or river. The elements used to create a dry stream that crosses the site, symbolize and represent flow, of so many functions and processes that take place innature as smaller and larger stones symbolizing islands while gravel represents water, the site becomes poetic and whimsical. A mixture of different varieties of Japanese Maple trees are planted over three small hills at the south part of the side, near the existing Pine alley, adding colour and textures along the main path of the garden. Additional architectural elements, characteristic of a Japanese Garden, will be intergrated into a next phase of the project by Japanese expertise. Additional architectural elements, characteristic of a Japanese Garden, will be integrated into a next phase of the project by Japanese expertise consultants in collaboration with the design team. A torii gate, characteristic of the Japanese Gardens, will be placed at the main entrance of thepark in order to welcome the visitors to the park, while the lanterns and the granite rocks will be placed in the first Japanese Garden in Athens. The design approach of the park lighting is based on two axes: enhancing the area safety and upgrading aesthetically the whole area, during the night. Special shadow effect filters reproduce the natural shading, like the one created during the day by the sun rays and filtered by the leaves of the trees.
The impact of the Japanese garden in Athens on social cohesion is significant.
The Japanese garden of Athens is not only beautiful natural space but also a cultural and spiritual symbol that promote tranquility harmony and mindfulness. When implemented in a diverse and bustling city like Athens -the Park offers a unique setting for people from different backgrounds to come together and foster a sense of unity and social cohesion. One of the main characteristics of Niirides park is its emphasis on peacefulness and serenity. The carefully designed landscapes balance of elements and incorporation of water features create a soothing and calm atmosphere. This tranquil environment can provide a retreat from the fast-paced city life allowing individuals to relax reflect and find inner peace. People who visit the garden may experience a sense of rejuvenation and well-being which can contribute to a positive and harmonious mood. The presence of the Japanese garden in Athens also serves as a meeting place for individuals with an interest in culture and aesthetics. This type of garden includes elements such as meditation spaces which can attract people who appreciate Japanese customs and practices. By gathering in this shared space individuals can engage in cultural exchange, learn from one another, and build connections based on mutual interests and curiosity. Such interactions can enhance understanding, respect and tolerance among different cultures ultimately contributing to social cohesion within Athens the capital city of Greece.
Furthermore, the Japanese garden can be a space for community activities and events. It can provide a venue for art exhibitions music performances or cultural festivals that showcase various aspects of Japanese culture. These events not only bring people together but also promote a sense of belonging and inclusion. They offer opportunities for individuals to interact, collaborate and celebrate their shared interests, strengthening social bonds and fostering a sense of community.
Furthermore, this park stands as a testament to the enduring bond between Greece and Japan. Every year, an annual gathering takes place here, drawing the Japanese Ambassador, Athens’ Mayor, and key stakeholders. This event underscores their shared commitment and the significance of nurturing their robust ties.
In conclusion the introduction of Niriides park has a positive impact on social cohesion. The park’s tranquil atmosphere cultural appeal and potential for community engagement create opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to come together promote understanding and appreciation of different cultures and build stronger social connections. By providing a space for reflection learning and celebration the Japanese garden contributes to a more harmonious and cohesive community in Athens.
The Japanese Garden / Niirides Park in Athens, can have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity, depending on its design and management practices.
- Habitat creation: The Park incorporates Japanese iconic plants, such as Acer sp (Japanese Maple tree), Prunus serrulata (Cherry blossom tree), and Iris species, as well as plants native to Japan that thrive in Greece or evoke a Japanese feel, like Rosmarinus officinalis, Myrtus communis, and Pittosporum tobira ‘Nana’ which provide habitats for local wildlife such as birds, insects, and small mammals.
- Plant diversity: This garden typically showcases a wide range of plant species, including 100+ trees, 2000 shrubs and flowers, which can contribute to overall biodiversity by supporting different types of organisms.
- Educational value: The Japanese Park also serves as educational location, raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity and promoting conservation efforts. Infographic panels have been placed at the 2 main entrances of the park and display the unique character, plant diversity and philosophical values showcased inside the park.
The impact of the Japanese Garden of Athens on economic factors in Athens, varies and depends on the following factors such as location, size, design, and management. The potential impacts are as follows
- Tourism and Revenue Generation: The Japanese Garden is well-designed and well-maintained and may attract (more) tourists and visitors, contributing to the local economy through increased tourism revenue. Visitors may be willing to pay entrance fees (nearby Museums), purchase souvenirs, or spend money on nearby businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and shops.
- Cultural Exchange and Education: The Japanese Garden serves as cultural landmark and educational space, promoting cross-cultural understanding and appreciation (Near by the Embassy of Japan). This leads to the development of cultural events, workshops, or educational programs, which can have positive economic impacts by attracting participants and generating revenue.
- Property Value and Real Estate: The presence of a well-known and well-maintained Japanese Garden can indirectly enhance the desirability and value of nearby properties in the center of Athens. This has a positive impact on the real estate market of the surrounding area.
- Local Businesses and Services: The park can also stimulates the growth of local businesses and services, such as garden supply stores, plant nurseries, landscaping companies, and hospitality services catering to visitors.
It is important to note that the economic impact of the project is influenced by various factors, including its popularity, accessibility, marketing efforts, and overall management. Proper planning, promotion, and collaboration with the stakeholders is helping to maximize the positive economic effects of this park in Athens, Greece.
The impact of the Japanese Garden in Athens Greece on climate is primarily influenced by its design elements and the plants that are incorporated into the garden. While the specific impact cannot be accurately measured, we can discuss some general aspects that influence the microclimate and overall sustainability of the garden.
- Vegetation: The choice and arrangement of plants in the Japanese Garden has a significant impact on the local climate. Trees and shrubs implemented in the park (e.g : Prunus serrulata, Cupressus sempervirens, Robinia pseudoacacia) can provide shade helping to reduce temperature and create a cooler environment. They can also affect wind patterns redirecting and reducing wind speeds within the garden. The selection of plants has been based on the local climate. The garden includes both Japanese and Mediterranean plants. Japanese maples, cherry blossoms, and bamboos coexist in harmony with laurels, myrtle trees, and daphnes. The garden also features shrubs, rocks, and pebbles forming beautiful paths, as well as charming relaxation areas made from granite. Additionally, plants play a role in moisture retention contributing to local humidity levels.
- Water features: The Park feature a pond as a water feature. Water elements have a cooling effect and contribute to local humidity levels. Evaporative cooling from water bodies help create a more comfortable and refreshing microclimate.
- Materials and construction: The use of materials such as stone gravel and wood affects temperature and moisture levels within the garden. Stone and gravel absorb and radiate heat while wood can provide insulation and shade. The design of pathways and structures influences air circulation and the capture of sunlight. Finally, Japanese style inspired benches were made of recycled wood previously used for railways.
- Shading and sunlight: Trees arbors and structures installed provide shade reducing heat buildup during hot periods while also protecting sensitive plants. Special shadow effect filters reproduce the natural shading, like the one created during the day by the sun rays and filtered by the leaves of the trees.
- Biodiversity: Promoting biodiversity within the Japanese Garden in Athens contributes to the resilience and sustainability of the local ecosystem. Incorporating Greek plants native also support local wildlife and increase the garden’s resilience to climate conditions.
It is important to note that while a Japanese garden may have some localized climate effects its impact on the broader climate such as global climate change would be minimal due to its relatively small size and localized nature. Nonetheless the design and management practices of the park contribute positively to the local microclimate and provide a pleasant and environmentally conscious space for Athenians to enjoy.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
Visiting the Japanese garden – Niirides park in the center of Athens has a positive impact on the well-being of visitors in several ways. The design approach of the park lighting is based on two axes: enhancing the area safety and upgrading aesthetically the whole area, during the night.
Potential benefits are as follows:
- Stress Reduction: The garden is designed to create a sense of tranquility and serenity. The carefully arranged elements such as lush greenery and calming pathways create a peaceful ambiance. This helps to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation providing visitors/users with a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
- Mindfulness and Meditation: The park often includes spaces that encourage mindfulness and meditation practices. Visitors/users can find peaceful spots to rest, reflect and connect with nature. The serene atmosphere and gentle sounds of nature can aid in focusing the mind, promoting mental clarity and reducing anxiety.
- Connection with Nature: Being in the garden allows visitors/users to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. The harmonious blend of elements (rocks , water, plants and carefully sculpted landscapes) awakens a sense of awe and appreciation for the natural world. This connection with nature has been shown to improve mental health.
- Physical Activity: Walking through the garden provides an opportunity for gentle physical activity. The meandering paths and varying terrains can encourage visitors/users to engage in light exercise promoting circulation and boosting energy levels. Physical activity is known to release endorphins which are natural mood elevators contributing to an enhanced sense of well-being.
- Cultural Experience: Experiencing a Japanese garden in Athens offers a glimpse into Japanese culture and philosophy. This garden design is based on principles such as harmony, balance, and simplicity.
- Mental Restoration: Visiting the park allows visitors/users and people working nearby to step away from the demands of everyday life/business stress and engage in a form of mental restoration. The peaceful surroundings and absence of technological distractions provide an opportunity for contemplation, introspection, and recharging. This can result in improved mental clarity, increased focus, and a renewed sense of purpose.
In summary, visiting this park in Athens may have a profound impact on the well-being of visitors/users. From reducing stress and promoting mindfulness to fostering a connection with nature and providing a cultural experience, this garden offers a soothing sanctuary that can positively influence one’s overall sense of well-being.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
The main circulation path of the park offers the opportunity to create a wondrous, mysterious, and exploratory strolling garden with adjacent meandering paths constructed of crushed gravel and scattered rocks carefully placed around the dry river. Paths are an integral part of the Japanese garden, carefully arranged to lead visitors to the best views of the garden. Each path has been constructed with permeable surfaces to enable water to pass through. Rocks and manicured shrubs, cloud – like formations, framed pathways characterize the movement within the park as a moon gate made of climbing Wisterias along wooden arches, fascinates the visitors walking through a small bamboo grove at the northwest side of the park.
The existing Pine Tree at the main entrance of the park is meticulously manicured to become the Welcoming Pine that leads the visitors to the garden. Cloud – clipped shrubs and granite benches are creating a space of gathering, serenity, and seclusion, under the shadow of the Welcoming Pine. Gravel and granite rocks are used to represent the flowing water of a stream or river. The elements used to create a dry stream that crosses the site, symbolize, and represent flow, of so many functions and processes that take place in nature as smaller and larger stones symbolizing islands while gravel represents water, the site becomes poetic and whimsical. A mixture of different varieties of Japanese Maple trees are planted over three small hills at the south part of the site, near the existing Pine alley, adding color and textures along the main path of the garden.
The overall design
The design of our Japanese park is a culmination of extensive research into the authentic style of Japanese gardens, capturing their essence while adapting to our local context. At the heart of this landscape lies the intertwining of water elements and rockeries, evoking a sense of tranquility and harmony. Gravel pathways wind their way through the garden, leading visitors across carefully placed stepping stones and bridges, fostering an experience of mindful contemplation.
Distinctive features such as stone lanterns and arches further immerse one into the Japanese aesthetic, while the gentle swish of fishes in the water bodies adds to the serene ambiance. Our design aims to transport visitors into a space of meditative beauty, encapsulating the profound relationship between humans and nature that characterizes Japanese philosophy.
Yet, the garden isn’t merely an emulation; it’s an integration. One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of our design journey was marrying the traditional Japanese flora with the resilient Mediterranean plant palette. This unique blend not only ensures the garden’s adaptability to our climate but also celebrates the harmonious fusion of two distinct horticultural heritages.
In essence, our Japanese park is more than just a space; it’s an experience. A journey that offers both an ode to traditional Japanese garden artistry and a testament to the versatility and beauty of Mediterranean flora.
The impact on the environment
Introducing the Japanese garden/ Niirides park has a positive impact on the environment by adopting a holistic and circular approach to its design and maintenance. Here are some keyways in which the project contributes to sustainability and environmental conservation in Athens:
- Native Plant Selection: A sustainable approach to the design and landscaping of the Japanese garden involves using greek native plant species wherever possible. Native plants are well adapted to the local climate requiring less water and maintenance while also supporting local wildlife and ecosystems.
- Water Conservation: Implementing water-efficient practices in the garden is crucial. Techniques such as automatic dripping irrigations systems, water permeable hardscape for paths and incorporating natural water features like the pond installed help to reduce water consumption. These measures reduce the dependence on scarce water resources and minimize water wastage.
- Organic Gardening Practices: Avoiding the use of harmful chemicals pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the garden helps preserve the nutrients in the soil, the overall plants health and surrounding ecosystem. Instead adopting organic gardening practices such as composting mulching and companion planting promotes biodiversity and reduces the overall ecological impact.
- Waste Reduction and Recycling: Implementing a circular approach to waste management is important in maintaining this sustainable Japanese garden. Implementing a system to reuse garden waste through composting and mulching helps enrich the soil and reduce the need for external inputs
- Wildlife Conservation: The park offers an opportunity to create habitats and provide food sources for local wildlife. By incorporating features such as bird feeders, butterfly-attracting plants bee-friendly flowers and nesting boxes it has become a haven for various species contributing to the overall biodiversity of the area.
- Environmental Education: The Japanese Park of Athens can also serve as an educational space to raise awareness about sustainability and environmental conservation. By hosting workshops, guided tours and informational signs visitors can learn about the importance of landmark species implemented within the garden and understand their uses and history.
Innovative value off the project
The Japanese garden of Athens holds significant innovation value in several aspects. First by introducing a traditional Japanese garden in a non-native context it serves as an innovative cultural exchange. It offers visitors the opportunity to engage with Japanese aesthetics architecture and landscaping techniques providing an immersive experience that can foster understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture. Second the Japanese garden of Athens demonstrates innovation through its harmonious design principles. Traditional Japanese gardens are known for their careful arrangement of elements such as rocks water features plants and structures to create a serene and balanced environment. By incorporating these design principles into the Athenian/Greek landscape, the garden showcases an innovative approach to urban planning and green spaces offering an alternative perspective on how to create tranquil retreats within bustling cities.
Furthermore, the park presents innovative solutions for sustainable and eco-friendly urban design. The garden incorporates sustainable practices such as water conservation utilizing rainwater harvesting systems (permeable pavements) and incorporating native plant species that require less water and maintenance. These environmentally conscious features provide inspiration and ideas for incorporating sustainable practices into urban landscapes globally.
Additionally, the project may serve as a catalyst for innovation in the tourism industry. By offering a unique visitor experience it attracts both locals and tourists, contributing to the diversification and enrichment of the city’s tourism offerings. This can stimulate economic growth, inspire entrepreneurship initiatives and foster innovative approaches to creating immersive cultural experiences. Moreover, the project can inspire innovation in the field of landscape architecture. By studying and analyzing the design and construction techniques used in the creation of this park professionals in this field can learn and adapt traditional Japanese practices to their own future projects. This cross-pollination of ideas and techniques leads to the development of new approaches and innovations in landscape design globally.
In conclusion the project holds remarkable innovation value. It serves as a cultural exchange platform that showcases innovative design principles promotes sustainability stimulates tourism and inspires innovation in landscape architecture and urban planning. This garden represents a fusion of traditions and ideas contributing to the enrichment and creativity of Athens’ cultural and urban fabric.