Project: Rotunda pedestrian bridge
(part of the PROSPELASIS project)
Date: November 2010 – June 2011
Size: 28 m²
Client: 9th EBA
In collaboration with Aristotelis Naniopoulos – Eleni Papanikolaou
The Rotunda is an important Byzantine Monument of Thessaloniki, which is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It was built c. AD 306, in the reign of Galerius Caesar, either as a temple of Zeus or Kabeiros or as the Emperor’s mausoleum.
Rotunda had significant problems as far as physical accessibility is concerned, mainly due to the large height difference between the entrance of the Monument and its interior. Thus, in the frame of the PROSPELASIS project (www.prospelasis.com) a number of accessibility improvement interventions took place, which included:
– For the improvement of physical accessibility:
Functional opening of an entrance / Creation of a bridge / Creation of a staircase / Installation of an internal lift
The approach of the Monument from the main “Imperial” gate, which exists on the south side of the Monument but was not functional, was selected as a solution. This solution did not only improve access to the Monument for visitors with restricted mobility, but also highlights further its importance. In order to enable visitors to reach this gate, a bridge over the excavation of the south outbuildings of the Monument was created. The bridge has a total length of 15.5m and is constructed from metal truss section, which bridges the floor of the south porch of the Monument to the pavement on the side of the Monument. The bridge’s surface is constructed from perforated metal. The design of the bridge was finalized with the contribution of the famous Greek American artist Cris Giannakos. The interventions are designed so as to have the minimum possible visual impact.
In order to bridge the height difference between the side entrance and the Monument’s floor, a new staircase, as well as a lift, was installed inside the Monument. The new staircase was created out of metal. This construction, together with the “bridge”, creates a single tread for wheelchair users. All interventions, prior to their realization, had been approved by the Central Archaeological Council of Greece.
– For the improvement of perceptional accessibility:
1. A Tactile model of the Monument was created utilizing Monument Scanning, model building and 3D printing technologies.
2. A WiFi system was installed, providing visual and audible information, audible description of the tactile model, as well as description of the Monument in Hellenic and International Sign Language.
3. Descriptions of the Monument in Braille were made available to visitors.
4. Training was provided to the personnel involved.
The effectiveness of these solutions was verified with the help of members of local disability associations.
The goal of these interventions is not only pertinent to Thessaloniki or Greece, in general, but can form a significant contribution to improving the understanding of the Byzantine era for people with disabilities.