On The Quest For An Expressive Method


The project explores a practical answer to the questions raised during the research: how can the transformation of an abandoned Olympic infrastructure revitalize and transform an area of the city. To start off the identification of several venues, where an intervention was needed to counterbalance the lack of suitable programs after the Games slowly turning those infrastructures into contemporary ruins, was vital.

The project focuses on the abandoned beach-volley venue located in Faliro Bay in Athens. As a witness to the contemporary history of the city, the stadium and the whole site must be refurbished instead of destroyed as it is sometimes suggested. The proposition strives to lean on the existing infrastructure’s conditions as well as the buildings’ structures.

The major intervention is on an urban scale. Despite its unique location next to the sea, the site is landlocked from the rest of the city by the succession of the ring road, tramway and roads. It becomes necessary to link this site to the existing promenade along Faliro Bay and to offer a way out to the city thanks to the dried river running along the neighborhood.  A more systematic system of underground passage can be implanted along the whole area thanks to the existing topography, tying closely the site to the city.

Once the urban transformations are defined, several programs are chosen to settle in the existing bare structures. A performing arts school takes place in the longitudinal building. The former stadium then becomes a theater, supporting the school necessities as well as welcoming performers for new experimentations and representations. The theater is transformed, stretched, playing with the topography and offering a multiplicity of uses.’


Who influences you graphically?

The method of representation of this project is the result of a continuous research for an expressive method. Early on in the architectural developing process, I try to find the best way to express my ideas through the type of drawings and images I choose to produce.  During this whole process, I seek for as many references as possible, immersing myself in different types of representation.

For the drawings and especially the territorial scale, I studied Bas Smets’ drawings. I like the fact that they are not only representing the project but also explaining the whole territory. I also really appreciate the drawings and collages of DOGMA, OFFICE or Luis Callejas. For this project, I was heavily influenced by the colourful illustrations of Phillippe Jodidio. I like the expressiveness of these images, that quickly convey their proper character.

What is your take on colour?

I must admit that I really like black and white line-weighted drawings. I think it’s the most direct way to express an idea, and it’s not disturbed by unnecessary information. However, I usually like to use one colour to draw attention to important details.

For each project, I choose a tint that I think suits the intention.

More than an urban intervention, this project is also the refurbishment of existing structures. I didn’t want to use the typical yellow / red code for technical drawings but had to settle for a colour that stays closeto that. That’s how I chose this antique pink.

For the collages, colour is always a strong statement. One could choose to stick to black and white. But in my opinion, the images are supposed to give an idea of the atmosphere of a project, and I’m more at ease to express it with colour.

How did you develop the research in relation to the speculation?

The word ‘Atlas’ (in the tittle) conveys the idea of a factual and scientific analysis that allows little room for interpretation and hypothesis. It’s an inventory of the situation in the Olympic cities that aims to draw conclusions on the impact of the organisation of a big scale event as well as its legacy.

On the one hand, the first part draws up a list of all the Olympic venues, their characteristics and their implantation in the city. These infographics and maps allow to understand the evolution and the impact of the organisation of the Olympic Games. On the other hand, the second part aims to highlight and analyse the Olympic legacy of organizing cities, trying to perceive the positive as well as the negative impacts.

From there, I would have liked to do the same inventory for the Olympic legacy of each city. But due to time and access to information, I had to do a selection. The criteria here was the typology of implantation of the venues within the city. We can imagine that cities following the same pattern can live similar experiences.

How important was it to diagrammatically situate Athens within a global context?

Athens is the one city everyone talks about when discussing the Olympic legacy. Everyone has his own opinion on the impact it had on the city and examples of abandoned venues in mind. It was important for me to go deeper than the typical assumptions.  For that, I had to study all the different venues but also the urban transformations within the city. Because if the different stadiums are clearly under-used or abandoned, the urban transformations initiated for the Olympic games changed Athens into a real metropolis.

But more than that, it was important to situate Athens within the global context of the different Olympic cities to allow for a comparison. In the first part as well as in the second one, each city is analysed with the same criteria: infographics data, a map of the Olympic venues at the time of the Games, but also a map to understand the geography and topography of the city, population and economical data, and a legacy map to show the current situation. This systematic representation allows the reader to compare the different cities and understand the situation of Athens within the global context.

How could all of the data from the research be developed into one huge collective data image?

Since this research is a collection of data, maps and diagrams, it represents a lot of materials that could hardly be gathered into one single image. But more than an image, if we talk about a way to summarise all those informations, I can’t help but think about the ‘Paris Haussmann, A model’s Relevance’ exhibition at the Pavilion de l’Arsenal this year.

On a wall and for each city all the information on the density, the number of inhabitants, social and economic data… was gathered, each with its own way of representation.


Kélissa Cartier graduated with a Master of Science MSc in Architecture from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2017. This project was completed as part of the master thesis, under the direction of Dominique Perrault.