Re-discovering the city centres under suburban rules: a celluloid quest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Alexis Alexiou’s 2007 film Tale 52 portrays a young architect, Jason, living in the centre of Athens in a trendy, renovated and meticulously designed apartment. The film concentrates on his love affair with Penelope and his memory gap of one week, during which Penelope leaves him. The story is directly connected to Jason’s apartment and how it disconnects him from the rest of the world despite being located to a central area of Athens.
In the past twenty years scholars and researchers have concentrated in the urban sprawl phenomenon, investigating ways of rejuvenating the city centers and their existing and abandoned neighborhoods. Lately political speech and action has responded to this request, followed by developers’ plans to exploit decadent and abandoned urban areas. Architectural and urban design competitions take place as developers discover low cost lots. A new trend immerges and the real estate-market discovered a way to fit the styles and the preferences of contemporary people to the older neighborhoods, either by renovating, either by demolishing and rebuilding.
This paper tries to follow the way these politics invade the existing urban tissue, how the old and the new meet and the consequences on the people and the city. In order to achieve this, the paper uses examples of cinematic images that are connected with such phenomena a usual practice since the ‘90s. Alexis Alexiou’s Tale 52 (2008) and the city of Athens are the central paradigm of the paper.
While on paper these developments seem to respond to the demand of de-suburbanization a series of questions is raised on the way the city centre is rejuvenated. Is it really a return to urbanity, or we return to the city centers under suburban conditions? How the architect places himself in this discourse? Architects just follow the trend or try to give answers and new paths on the subject? This paper aims through analyzing the structure of the film to discover the parallels with contemporary architecture and urban design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMimarlik medya sanat: architecture media arts
Subtitle of host publicationUluslarrasi mimarlik sanat sempozyumu: international architecture art symposium
Place of PublicationIstanbul
PublisherMimar Sinan Fine Arts University
Number of pages83
ISBN (Print)978-975-6264-66-9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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