Small-scale interventions in the barren place of Dia Island


28FEB 2024
# TITLE: Small-scale interventions in the barren place of Dia Island
# STUDENTS: Konstantina Golemi
# SUPERVISOR: Dimitris Tsakalakis
# DATE: 2022
# COURSE: Design thesis
# SCHOOL / DEPARTMENT: Technical University of Crete

Dia is the second largest satellite island of Crete after Gavdos. It is a barren desert island, at least in its modern history, and it is a habitat of particular importance classified as a NATURA protected area and a declared archaeological site.
It is located 7nm. north of Heraklion, has an area of about 12km. with its highest point being the peak Vardia at 266m. It consists of 4 bays, those of St. George, Kaparis, Panagia and Agrielia, which function as safe anchorages. It is an island quite rocky with an intense terrain and mostly low vegetation (toadstools) with the exception of some wild olive and carob trees. The island is of great archaeological interest and this is evident both from the total number of dry stone structures that we can find on its surface and from the underwater archaeological excavations in the bays of the island.
Realizing the special importance and richness of the island, my intentions concern three scenarios of visiting and wandering through the landscape. Each scenario leads to a set of small interventions that stand with great respect to the islands austere topography.
The three scenarios are :
● visiting the island for archaeological interest,
● for naturalistic purposes
● for recreation
Each intervention is capable of serving the functional program of each scenario with the aim of a unit answering to many needs, with strict consistency in the qualities of materials and textures used in the set of interventions. Dry stone walls, water features, wooden structures and collective spaces with minimal intervention in the landscape are some of them.
The interventions are connected through the informally carved path that runs through the island which I reinforce with signage and wayfinding.
In the bay of St. George, I propose the creation of a small introductory area for the island, an inspection area that will function as an info point, in the place of the ancient harbour. At the same time, in the same bay, in the place of the abandoned tavern, which I am clearing with a corresponding restoration of the landscape, I am creating a small canteen. A linear tank separates the main and secondary spaces which are developed on a dry stone slope. In the cove of the same bay, I place a system of guesthouses on the trail at the site of the Forestry Department shelters. Using the drywall as a visual boundary, I develop two accommodation spaces that share a common subterranean space with their main functions, protected from the weather by sliding elements.
Continuing along the path towards Vardia peak and passing alongside the ancient dry stone structures preserved on the island, I propose the placement of an amphitheatre-shaped observation deck and a platform with a view of the South and the mountains of Heraklion and Lasithi (Ideo Andron, Stroumboulas, Talaia Mountains, Psiloritis). At the end of the gorge of Panagia, which I propose to be activated with signage, I place a diving base and a pier in continuity with the course of the gorge, strengthening the relationship between land and sea. Movable wooden elements form three functional areas, those of learning, the infirmary and the storage of diving equipment, while on the west side I place the secondary functions, changing room and WC.