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Athens, the capital of Greece, epitomizes the opportunities and constraints of modern urbanization, sustainable mobility, green infrastructure, greenway planning, and the associated quality of contemporary Greek civic life. Though the country’s economy has been suffering tremendously for the past consecutive eight years with harsh austerity measures holding back any developmental commotion, signs of recovery and appropriate funding are lately emerging.

Physically, Athens has overcome its natural containing barriers, the Pikilo and Hemmitos Mountains on east and west borders, the southern waterfront expanding over to the Thriasio and Mesogeia Fields and the island of Aegina respectively. Culturally, contemporary Athens is thriving, living up to her own historical heritage and legacy. Socially, the latest abrupt surge of immigrant and refugees influx has altered both demographical ratios and civic life in the congested downtown and CBD of the city as well as the dispersed residential neighborhoods within a chaotic urban fabric. Economically, foreign and local investors have shown a keen interest in large scale projects (e.g. the former Hellinikon International Airport) but national debts to both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) have led to governmental hesitation and procrastination of any developmental plans, halting in turn the investors’ much anticipated and crucial momentum. Lastly, clashing stakeholders’ interests within the broader green infrastructure and targeted greenway planning process, provide the fertile basis for a wide spectrum of alternative development scenarios.

One of the most discussed and highest-profile projects in Greece today is Hellinikon, an ambitious plan for converting the former Athens airport into an enormous park. The site of Hellinikon lies 8 km southwest of the center of Athens being approximately 1,500 acres and boasting a 3.5 km waterfront, including a marina. Exploiting the Hellinikon site as the main organizing impetus, this paper presents a proposal for an Urban Greenway Network in the Greater Athens Metropolitan Area (GAMA) as a response to prudent city planning, attempting to address the vision, the strategic issues, the governmental and private synergies, the planning criteria, the physical design and standards of greenway planning required for its implementation at the city scale and beyond. At the background, ecological, social, and economic issues weave the sustainability concerns and processes of green infrastructure planning.



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