New Scenario for the Manufactured Landscape
Dimitrios Mitsimponas proudly presents Re-mining Giali: a new scenario for the manufactured landscape. It is a Winner of the A+ Student Award and People's Choice Award at AZ Awards 2023. The project proposes a new scenario for Giali island’s manufactured landscape which has been irreparably altered by mining, causing many environmental and social effects. It explores the relation between energy production infrastructure and recreational facilities to reclaim the mine and create a new revenue stream for the local communities.
Giali at Risk of Eroding Away
Giali is a small volcanic island in Greece, with one of the world’s largest open-pit pumice mines. Although it is included in the Natura 2000 Network and declared as a Protected Landscape of Natural Beauty, two companies operate in four locations. The royalty fees that mining generates for the nearby island of Nisyros are the biggest source of revenue for its Municipality. The excavations started in the 50s and have a specific time frame, but no plan has been proposed regarding the island’s development. Due to this mono-cultural economy, Giali is at risk of eroding away. Within the future climate goals, Nisyrians decided to prevent further exploitation of unrenewable resources and to reclaim the mine sustainably.
Genious Harmony with Geothermal Energy
The project focuses on utilizing Giali’s geothermal energy through an architectural program in which energy production and the bathing element have the leading roles. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source in the form of heat generated inside the earth and has many applications in various industries. The geothermal power plant is a heat hub that produces electricity for Nisyros that meets its needs. Its waste heat is consumed directly at the bathing facilities, just as geothermal sources are used by different cultures for purification and relaxation. According to a cascading system, the spaces are organized depending on their heat and humidity requirements, creating a hybrid where all the senses are stimulated.
The proposal explores the connection of the plant’s industrial character with the stimulating aura exuded by the baths, and it is in harmony with the "genius loci," highlighting the site’s unique atmosphere. It also differs from the standard mine reclamation practices, mainly including topsoil placement and reforestation. In this thesis, a combination of three design approaches is applied. The first one seeks to engage the public and the local communities, and to educate them about energy production and consumption in the present age, as well as about mining and future land use by designing the info point, power plant, and exhibition. The second one focuses on utilizing Giali’s rainwater and clean, renewable energy resources with environmental responsibility to reduce energy and resource inputs. The third one suggests rehabilitating the location for public and recreational amenities, namely electric utilities, walking trails, and baths.
The thesis highlights the architects’ social responsibility and proposes a sustainable scenario for the area's development and self-sufficiency. It also raises awareness of critical environmental and energy management challenges. The approaches can act as catalysts in solving critical issues and can positively impact the region's socioeconomic future. The project could trigger a series of new interventions related to Giali, Nisyros, and other islands.
In 2022, Dimitrios Mitsimponas graduated at the top of his class, with the highest honors, from the Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly. Throughout his academic journey, he consistently demonstrated his dedication to excellence. His keen interest in sustainable design is showcased through his thesis project, which has received prestigious awards. His work has garnered international recognition, including accolades from AZURE, Eumies Awards, the Cyprus Architects Association and the Youth Board of Cyprus.