URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 29–48 | Cite as

Traditional settlements in east Vermion – Greece, environment and urban form

  • Nikos KalogirouEmail author


The historical evolution and prosperity of the traditional communities analyzed in this paper is directly related to the broader geographical hinterland with the important surplus of agricultural produce that it offered. The sites of the towns were chosen to guarantee important environmental advantages; they were located on natural axes and in elevated positions dominating the immediate environs.

The various quarters made up the cells of the urban organism, in both the social and the ecological sense, constituting small residential units which corresponded to the geographical micro-environment.

The traditional town plan formed an organic whole into which were incorporated the systems of thoroughfares, the building blocks and plots, the built structures and open spaces. Even the unique features or monuments were discreetly incorporated into the whole. And all these elements were perfectly adapted to the special features of the environment (the rise and fall of the terrain, the streams, the orientation, etc).

All the variations on the traditional dwelling spring from a small number of basic types adapted to suit the environment (view, ground, ventilation, light and shade) and the urban context (free development, ribbon developed, etc). The finest of houses, the archontika, are sophisticated versions of the same typological dispositions. In their construction, the dwellings make the fullest use of the available local materials, and employ them in their natural state with the minimum of processing.

The transition from the traditional to the contemporary town has brought in its wake a pattern of devastation and distortion. Yet we can see today the first signs of a new policy of rehabilitating the traditional communities, not only for their cultural value, but also to restore their ecological integration into the geographical context, an approach which may prove to be the first step towards a contemporary environmental town planning.


urban form thoroughfares traditional construction methods environment blocks of buildings urban fabric traditional quarters typology building plots 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture, Aristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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