Master thesis by Dafni Riga, entitled “A refuge for boats”, concerns the regeneration of the bay of Despotiko in Greece, in terms both of landscape and architecture, while at the same time tackling a contemporary cultural issue characterising the area, that of the destruction and extinction of traditional boats.

-text by the author

The purpose of this project is to address two objectives at the same time: how to revitalize a relatively remote rural space and how to help preserve elements of heritage through the means of design.

The relationship between the two is indissoluble, since they are both incorporated in a landscape with distinct characteristics. In order to define the kind of design solution that responds to the objectives in an effective way, the research followed a methodology of analysis of the landscape from a wider scale up to the site itself. The methodology takes into account the geographical and cultural characteristics of the Greek archipelago, thus examining the relations between insular land and sea, as well as the ones between the latter and humans.

Understanding the purpose and nature of traditional boatbuilding both in theory and practice, lead to the definition of the most important parameters to be addressed through the project: the need for new tools of preserving local heritage and the need for communicating it in a contemporary and inclusive way, under the aegis of thematic tourism.

With these specifications in mind, the programme believed to be suitable for the site is an Educational Centre for Seafaring Tradition, formed by two design components: an exhibition area and library concerning traditional seafaring and boatbuilding; and a boatbuilding workshop where visitors can put into practice their newly- acquired knowledge.The two components are inserted in separate islands in order to mark the programme’s importance along the bay and in parallel emphasize the boat’s essence of a “bridging” mechanism.

While this project is attached to a specific geographical point of the Aegean Sea, a recommendation for further analysis of the subject would involve a study for a wider programme spanning the Greek archipelago, aiming to actively inform and educate the public about all the aspects of cultural heritage related to the seascape and its people.

Facts & Credits
Project title  A refuge for boats
Student  Dafni Riga
Supervisor  Renato Juarez Corso
Date  2019
Course  Master thesis
Institution  Politecnico di Milano