ἐλαία (elaía, “olive”) - Agritourism Complex inside an ancient ecosystem of olive groves - Entry Perspective
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ἐλαία [elaía = “olive”]
Agritourism Complex inside an ancient ecosystem of olive groves in Peloponnese, Greece
Master of Architecture Thesis Project
The relatively unknown Messenia region in southern Greece today is occupied by luxury resorts, villas, and hotels filling its beautiful coastlines and olive groves. The rapid increase of global visitors in the last twenty years comes from these natural attractions made easier with a new airport and easy access from Athens.
However, the benefit to local people and their natural environment compared to building activity is disproportionate. As is too common, luxurious resorts tend to become architectural fortresses that ostentatiously ignore the environment; they reciprocate by offering only seasonal work to locals and do not contribute to the promotion and development of their regional villages. Consequently, olive grove owners and local investors (no longer enjoying the financial security given by olive oil production in the past) have started building small hotel units and villas inside their groves in an effort to increase income by way of this rapid tourist development. Climate change and extreme weather patterns in the Mediterranean have made olive tree cultivation a high-risk and no longer profitable agricultural activity.
This thesis explores new architectural paths for a mild and more sustainable tourism development based on vernacular architecture and materials, promoting the local culture, hospitality, agricultural activities, agritourism, and gastronomy of the Mediterranean diet. In addition, the proposal promotes equity and inclusion to the local population and environment: sensitive construction activities treat olive groves not merely as context but as significant parts of an architectural program that fosters new sustainable relationships between architecture, nature, and people.