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MONUMENTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Modern way of thinking takes for granted the duty of every public place to ensure equal access to all citizens, especially if this place has an educational, entertaining and cultural content.

To achieve this aim there are, however, many conditions which affect the final result and concern design issues, information, education, the culture of universal access etc. so that a monument or an archaeological site, can be visited by people with different kinds of disabilities.

The Transport Systems Research Group of the Faculty of Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, headed by Professor Naniopoulos Aristotelis, managed to make the UNESCO Monument of Rotunda in Thessaloniki accessible to people with physical and sensory disabilities as well as to develop a methodology to improve accessibility to Monuments and Archaeological sites, through their involvement in the «PROSPELASIS» project, in collaboration with AUTH and the 9th Ephorate of Byzantine, with co-financing by national and European funds of the EEA (European Economic Area and mainly from Norway).

Interventions in the Rotunda monument for universal accessibility by all guests

INTERVENTIONS TO THE ROTUNDA MONUMENT

Interventions were made at the Rotunda monument in Thessaloniki, that improve access for visitors with restricted mobility. A footbridge with total length of 15,5m. So was designed and implemented to connect the sidewalk with the so-called "Imperial" entrance. Also, a new staircase as well as a lift were installed inside the Monument.

To facilitate visitors with hearing problems, a WiFi application was created, which is used for text information retrieval about the Monument in Greek, English and Russian. Information is also available in audio format in the three languages mentioned above as well as in Greek and in the International Sign Language. Visitors can, now, get information through their (third generation) mobiles or through the few tablets provided by the personnel of the Monument.

Finally, to further assist visitors with restricted vision, a digital model of the Monument was created and then, on an appropriate scale, a metal tactile model, which was coated with a suitable material to facilitate the feeling of touch, was installed near the newly opened entrance. In regards to the haptic model of Rotunda visitors with restricted vision can be guided through a specially designed acoustic "finger navigation" application which is also accessible through the wireless WiFi network of the Monument. Furthermore, informational signs were installed at the entrance of the Monument.

Two great artists living and working abroad have also participated in the design of the interventions: Cris Gianakos participated in the design of the bridge in the Rotunda and Constantin Xenakis participated in the horizontal interventions (transitory) and vertical signage connecting the Rotunda monument with the Acheiropoietos church and Agia Sofia street. Moreover, at the middle of the route special resting areas were placed for visitors. The marking of the route aims to facilitate the orientation of people with intellectual disabilities.

International Award

- The international award of the "Friendly Spaces Accessible to All 2014" competition organised by the International Union of Architects (UIA) was awarded to the Transport Systems Research Group of AUTH for their interventions to improve physical and perceptual accessibility by people with disabilities, implemented within the framework of the AUTH "PROSPELASIS" project, in the Monument of Rotunda in Thessaloniki. The award was given to the Leader of the Group, Professor Aristotelis Naniopoulos from the School of Civil Engineering of AUTH as well as to the group members, the Architects Kalliagra Alexandra and Papanikolaou Eleni.

- Approval of funding (3.5 million Euros) for the CIPTEC: Collective Innovation for Public Transport in European Cities Research Project, through the Horizon 2020 program. The project is coordinated by Professor Aristotelis Naniopoulos and the Transport Systems Research Group of AUTH (TSRG / AUTH).

- Praise by the PanHellenic Union of Paraplegic & Physically Challenged for the long, scientific, research and social contribution to the accessibility of citizens with mobility difficulties.

ARISTOTLE UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI

Professor Naniopoulos Aristotelis, Head of Transport Systems Research Group, School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, AUTH.  Team Members / Architects: Kalliagra Alexandra and Papanikolaou Eleni.

http://www.tsrg.gr http://www.prospelasis.com