Middle-Class Housing Development in Thessaloniki, Greece

Polykatoikia: from Heterogeneous to Homogeneous and Vice Versa


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Middle-class housing in Greece developed rapidly after World War II (WWII). Across all Greek cities a multi-story building type, so-called “polykatoikia” emerged because before the war, in 1929, a social and legal contract was constituted, according to which each apartment could be owned by “micro-owners”. The applied General and Special Building Regulations envisioned a homogeneous city volume composed of these polykatoikias. On the other hand, the new ownership model invited a heterogeneous middle-class population to buy and reside in these apartments, in contrast to the previous homogenous one owner per building model. Thessaloniki developed differently than other cities, starting with homogeneous urban planning and city volume, but heterogeneous architectural styles that would evolve vice versa in the post-WWII era. The contemporary political–social–economic changes modified the city’s development vision and population’s needs related to the polykatoikia. Today, the matured state of the polykatoikias, the expected deterioration of the building stock and its environmental (in)efficiency troubles the micro-owners. The lack of common decision-making strategies to enforce building unity increases the entropy to a dysfunctional level. The paper’s main goal is to investigate whether the polykatoikia model is reaching a breaking point. Will the future of the polykatoikia return to homogeneity by relying on one investor per building and be leading a decrease of polykatoikia’s variety, or are there strategies that lead to the sustainability of the building type and its micro-owners? The research is based on the author’s Ph.D. thesis; recent literature on the topic and in-situ observations both support the objectives.

How to Cite

Alexiadou, S. (2023). Middle-Class Housing Development in Thessaloniki, Greece: Polykatoikia: from Heterogeneous to Homogeneous and Vice Versa. Docomomo Journal, (68), 26–35. https://doi.org/10.52200/docomomo.68.03b




Author Biography

Sotiria Alexiadou

Was born in Thessaloniki and studied Architecture at the University of Thessaly (2007). She attended the MSc. in Urban Strategies, Applied Arts University Vienna (2010) and the MSc. in Protection, Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Monuments, Aristotle University (2016). She earned her doctorate from University of Thessaly’s Architecture Department (2022). Her research focuses on architecture and urban development mechanisms of the 20thc. She participated in teaching teams of architecture classes in University of Cyprus, University of Thessaly, and Aristotle University and in design teams of architectural competitions earning distinctions. Her research and architecture projects were presented at conferences and exhibitions.