This article is available also in spanish here

The ‘pocket parks’ of Athens: green oases in the city

My list

Autor | M. Martínez Euklidiadas

Through tactical urbanism strategies, the millenary city of Athens is creating little urban parks known as pocket parks. Despite its dense layout and clear lack of space, the city council has found the solution to include more green areas in the city: small gardens in previously unkempt corners of the city, which even seek to reduce local crime.

What are pocket parks?

Pocket parks are little garden areas in previously decayed urban spaces, "little green spaces created in forgotten vacant lots" according to researchers. The aim is to find a tactical-economic urbanism solution that is easy to implement and execute, and which changes the use of space- with varied objectives.

One of the most interesting objectives in the Athens case is the aim to combat crime within some of the poorest neighborhoods. The multiple crises that the country and the city has experienced has even led tourists to ask "IsAthens safe?" As in most European cities, the answer is "definitely" since much of the bad press the city has received refers to the 2007-2009 period and its economic crisis, however some very specific areas are still troublesome.

The reason behind the pocket parks of Athens

The existing metropolis of Athens was founded in the 16th century BC, with a history spanning almost four thousand years, and it is therefore one of the oldest cities in the world.

With a population of one and a half million and a density of over 19,000 people per square kilometer, its informal growth has provided it with a millenary resilience, but also difficulties in terms of fulfilling some minimum health, public hygiene or environmental standards.

Luckily for Athens, this city does not follow the urban planning manifesto of the Charter of Athens and it maintains a compact layout in keeping with its traditional configuration. The problem, of course, is how to introduce parks into a city that is now full of people. How to integrate nature into an apparently replete city.

The public-private model of the pocket parks of Athens

The solution for Athens has been to follow the pocket park model, which emerged during the reconstruction of Europe after World War II to improve the quality of life of residents, paid for with private money from companies within the city.

The 'Adopt your city' program allows companies, associations or citizens to take on the cost of urban improvements, when municipal budgets are tight.

In 2020, Kypseli, the 6th district of Athens, saw how the consulting firm Deloitte supported the creation of a small green space for residents. The objective was not a project with the monumental character or amazement often sought with public parks: it is a small asphalt path surrounded by local vegetation and a couple of trees providing shade next to benches.

After Kypseli came Sepolia, Packrati, Kolonos, Kerameikos, Petralona, Agios Artemios, Patisia and finally Neos Kosmos in 2022, the ninth and last pocket park to be created, this time with the help of Organization Earth, which had been recovering spaces for years.

The benefits of pocket parks

The primary objectives of pocket park projects include giving citizens access to green areas, adapted to the specific urban circumstances of the Greek capital, and also to provide shade during increasingly frequent heat episodes. There are also other objectives such as reducing crime by attracting more citizens onto the streets or tackling loneliness, particularly among the older population.

Today, these small green spaces are used by all ages and social positions, and have become safe spaces that have improved residents' quality of life, who can now enjoy localized cooler spaces, benches and greater urban biodiversity next to their homes.

Image | Amir Ahmadi

Related content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Marta Bellavista
Cardinaltech Company S.L.
Eduardo González
Eduardo González
My EU Consulting
Country Manager
Sigrid Ehrmann
EIT Urban Mobility
Barbara Levantini Aloi
Barbara Levantini Aloi
Marketing communications manager
Yanshu Wei
Yanshu Wei
Student (Electrical engineering in bachelor and now majoring Energy for Smart Cties)
Abdulhamid Mohamed
Abdulhamid Mohamed
Focus Consulting
International Trade Consultant/Smart Cities Practitioner/Promoter of Green NH3, Technology
Luis cai
Luis cai
Provide best solution for new energy car charging
Xavier Crusat
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Eduardo Ladrón de Guevara Ruano
Sungeun Lim
Friedrich Naumann Foundation Korea Office
Elbellahy Shukri
Ang Ye
German Energy Agency
Team Leader
Derman Kahraman
Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality
Directrice Foreign Affairs Directorate of Foreign Affairs Department
Gabrielle Gavieta
University of Leeds
MsC Student
Carlao Diaz
joao mugeiro
joao mugeiro
Utilities Business Development Manager
Anabela Bento
Business Development Manager
Teresa Costa
Media Line - Comunicação e Imagem
Account Manager
Naoko Ichikawa
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation
Chief Marketing Officer

Thank you for registering to Tomorrow.City. You can now start exploring all the content for free!
Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$