|Type||Environment and Sustainability|
|Founded||Established 2005. Non-profit status 2006 (Greece) and 2007 (Israel).|
|Area served||Europe, Middle East and International|
|Focus(es)||Architectural design, Green Buildings, Sustainability, Urban Planning, Urban Intervention|
|Method(s)||Fieldwork, education, training, empowerment|
|Motto||...habits change...climate change|
|References: ECOWEEK has Associates in Bulgaria, Cyprus, , Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine (West Bank), Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and United Kingdom|
ECOWEEK Εβδομάδα Οικολογίας (Greek) or אקוויק (Hebrew) is a private non-profit, non-governmental international organization aiming towards the empowerment, networking, education and training of young professionals - architects, designers, engineers, landscape architects - towards sustainable urban and public interventions and facilitation of action through fieldwork, workshops, education and training and through cooperation with local authorities, organizations and leaders.
ECOWEEK was initially established in Aegina, Greece in 2005. It was conceived as a community event - Ecological Week in Aegina - to raise environmental awareness of the local community of 14,000. At the time Aegina was challenged by unresolved waste management, illegal burning of waste, inexistant waste recycling program, water shortages, energy shortages, and a thriving and partially unregulated spec construction market for summer houses, which although contributed to the local economy, it put pressure in protected areas to be developed and constructed. Construction also contributed in increasing illegal disposal of construction waste in natural reserves, and the increase of the summer population thus bringing the capacity of the existing infrastructures of the island to its limits.
Ecological Week in Aegina was held in Aegina for 2 years. In 2007, responding to an increase demand for environmental awareness beyond Aegina, ECOWEEK co-organized activity throughout Greece, and initiated free-admission screenings of award-winning documentary on Climate Change by Davis Guggenheim An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore in schools, the army, and public screenings in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Lamia, Corfu, and Crete. Within this activity, in June 2007, ECOWEEK held a public free-admission keynote lecture and slide show on Climate Change by inviting Al Gore to the Athens Concert Hall. In 2008 an Ecological Week was also held in Larnaka, Cyprus, in cooperation with the Municipality of Larnaka], involving schools, universities, professional organizations, and the general public.
Since 2005, ECOWEEK developed diverse activity towards raising awareness to a variety of population groups, age-groups and interests. For example, children activity, cleaning of beaches, lottery of composters and solar chargers, academic and colloquial lectures, site visits, workshops, and film screenings. Since 2008, ECOWEEK focused more on 'green' design, ecological building and its activity primarily involved one-week-long 'green' design workshops and international conferences for young and established professionals - primarily architects, designers, landscape architects and engineers. ECOWEEK activity has been made possible through close collaboration with cultural institutions, such as the American Institute of Architects Continental Europe, the British Council, Goethe Institute, academic institutions, municipalities and governments. ECOWEEK events have taken place in Athens, Copenhagen, Thessaloniki, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Azaryia (Bethany), Bet Jalla, Rome, Milano, Kraków, Belgrade, and Istanbul.
In 1989 ECOWEEK co-founder architect Elias Messinas met the late Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy - author of Architecture for the Poor - in Cairo. In that meeting, Fathy conveyed to Messinas how problems in Egypt - among them housing for the poor - could be solved. Among others Fathy emphasized the need for young professionals to be more aware of their own community and instead of imitating architecture in international magazines, to reach out, learn about and be creative while benefiting with their work their own community.
Inspired by Fathy, since 2010, ECOWEEK workshops have developed a more hands-on approach that links between acedemia and the community, and between professionals and students. Aiming to both empower and train young professionals to the professional realities, and to intervene in the urban public space, ECOWEEK and its partners have developed a model of close collaboration with local authorities, local organizations and leaders. Through this collaboration, the ECOWEEK workshops are assigned projects that are real, support them with professional consultants and see that some of the projects are implemented. Students' ideas are heard and cities, neighborhoods and communities benefit from the innovative and creative ideas of students and the professional guidance of the workshop leaders. The ECOWEEK workshops have developed sustainable proposals for Copenhagen, Thessaloniki, Rome, Belgrade, Kraków, Jerusalem, and Azaryia.
Aiming to establish a permanent platform and not just one-week-long activity, ECOWEEK established the GREENHOUSE in 2011 in Athens, Greece. The GREENHOUSE is a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship for society and the environment, engaging young architects, designers, landscape architects and students in real design assignments for real non-profit organizations and local authorities. The GREENHOUSE teams, under the guidance of experienced professionals, have developed sustainable solutions for schools, community centers, welfare institutions and the urban public space in Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece and Holon, Bat Yam and Jaffa in Israel.
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