City Circles Athens

It is a well-reported fact that more than half the world’s population now lives in cities (UN, 2014) and that this number will only continue to grow. In order to facilitate and manage this growth we need to have a thorough understanding of how cities function, how people operate within them and what elements influence them. In 2016, the city circle was set in Metaxourgeio, Athens. 

A group of explorers–designers and social scientists from different disciplines – each focussed on two topics: one given topic and one topic they choose themselves. Providing each City Circle with the same set topics will lead to a standardisation of data, making it possible for the data of different projects to be compared. The chosen topics grant the explorers the possibility to make use of own interests and allows for local traits to be incorporated into the research. Teams consisted of both local and non-local explorers, as each provided a different perspective on the topics and their local context. Each team included a ‘senior’, someone who had worked on a City Circles project before.
The website of City Circles Athens can be found 



Mass&Crafts - Moreno Schweikle

Inside Metaxourgeio two contrary worlds meet: Chinatown, an area abundant with mass produced products and the local craftsmen. Mass&Crafts tries to merge the opportunities within both worlds. It questions how we can cope with mass production in the future, while still ensuring that our local crafts do not die out. This was turned into three examples were local craftsmen increase the functional and aesthetic qualities of mass-produced objects. 

Can you hear me? - Deborah van Putten

They met on a warm summer night in a small classroom in Athens. A passionate teacher made efforts to teach the foreigners the Greek language. Deborah found relief in some small talk in English with one of my fellow classmates while being surrounded by strange sounds.
That same day she tried to interview some inhabitants of Athens. It started with optimism: when Deborah was unable to express herself, she used body language or drawings. But soon she noticed that in this way it was only possible to convey the most basic messages. A deeper conversation was impossible without a shared language.
She wondered: what is left of your identity when the words you speak are mere sounds to others?

Paper Gatherers Identity - Rik Makes

When Rik walked through the circle in Athens, he noticed the cleaners with big trolleys going around the city, nearly invisible yet heavily loaded. He decided to research this and started collecting their stories. He walked along with some of the cleaners through the neighborhoods of Athens. Along busy roads, Rik saw the necessity of being seen and believed adding some color could help. Rik went to the refugee camp to give the people he met during his research colorful identities, and brought paint to cheer up the cars. The people we’re so enthusiastic that all together they started painting them all. 


Socratic dialogue

The Socratic dialogue establishes a strong disciplined dialog that forces us listen to the other, to the weak signal and to the voice of our past and future culture. It transforms the participants into creative thinkers, while shaping an environment of respect and shared collaborative wisdom. It molds a strong empathic community that makes out of the box thinking possible. These dialogues were held in Athens guided by Humberto Schwab from Socratic Design©.

The Socratic design lab is a context that instantaneously creates a new level of valued interactions, starting from some strong principles:
-People are moral creatures and we need shared values.
– Crafting a common question is the starting point in creating knowledge.
– Concrete personal experiences can lead to knowledge creation.
– The art of listening can get you out of automatic thinking.
– All thoughts can be interesting.
– Everybody can philosophise.
– Products, services, surroundings, or any practice always implies values and assumptions.
– Only from an optimal mental state of the group, can future/user scenarios really be effective.
– The methods are successful because they liberate tacit knowledge, energy, hidden values and biological strength of empathy.