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Zoe Tzika


Zoe graduated as an Architect Engineer from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) in 2017. Her research thesis: ‘From crisis scapes to common space: spatial transformations and practices in the post-political city’ was concerned with the production of the urban space in the socio-political context of the financial crisis in Greece. Subsequently, her diploma project: ‘Urban Factory: a micro-production model for the commons’ was a design study on the collective rehabilitation of a neglected neighborhood in Thessaloniki and the co-creation of the urban commons. She also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Lyon, France as part of her studies. In 2020, she obtained an MA from the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC) on Design for Emergent Futures.


She has worked as an architect in Copenhagen, at the architectural studio Urban Agency, working on the conception, design, realisation and construction of projects across several scales from the urban to the residential. She was also part of the Atelier d'architecture autogérée in Paris working on self-managed architecture and research concerning urban mutations and the commons. She has worked as a freelance architect on personal projects, such as the rehabilitation of existing housing and of small-scale buildings, and as a research assistant for the FabCity research initiative, focusing on the topics of sustainable urban development and circular local production. Her research is following a transdisciplinary action research methodology in order to investigate current practices of collective processes and alternative models of housing provision that aim at inclusive and sustainable urban environments.

Research topic

Updated sumaries

September, 17, 2021

Retrofit of existing buildings and cohousing :
Co-creation of sustainable living environments


The aim of the research is to critically investigate the sustainable retrofit of neighborhoods and housing through collective and community-based practices. The research takes its departure from the need for a critical exploration of what defines a sustainable urban environment, that promotes socially inclusive, environmentally aware and affordable modes of living, that is co-produced by the local population, according to their needs. The research seeks to connect the act of inhabiting with the active involvement in shaping the built environment and creating sustainable communities with respect to their identity and socio-cultural characteristics. 


Housing is becoming unaffordable for a big part of society, because of the rising real-estate values, financialization and deregulation of the housing market and a permanent and global housing crisis. At the same time, the right to affordable housing should not be separated from the right to decent housing and to access resources, infrastructures and services. Often, urban areas are being (re)developed following neoliberal urbanism and centralized decision-making, which leads to dislocation of the local populations, gentrification or exclusion. In addition, the climate crisis strengthens the importance of re-considering the dominant paradigm of urban development, suggesting more ecological approaches and energy efficiency. Bottom-up practices of collective retrofit and cohousing are creating alternatives that challenge the commodification and precarization of housing and the atomization and isolation of people, offering opportunities for collaboration, appropriation, self-management and empowerment of the residents. 


The research will investigate collaborative practices of housing with the adaptive reuse and retrofit of existing built environments, understanding the socio-political context in which they emerge to create perspectives that go beyond a normative approach. I will use case study research with a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative data, to investigate the process and the characteristics of retrofit cohousing. The post-occupancy evaluation will be followed by participatory action research. Also, the field surveys will be combined with interviews and ethnographic methodologies to develop a comprehensive analysis of the existing conditions. The aim is to arrive at analysis and methodologies for sustainable retrofit of existing buildings considering the social implications and exploring the potential of collaborative housing.  



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