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Well-considered and thoughtful, Dimitrios Mitsimponas’s Re-mining Giali is a landscape rehabilitation proposal that sees a pumice mine on a volcanic Greek island — once exhausted and decommissioned — converted into an oasis that not only heals the anthropogenic damages inflicted upon it but also rejuvenates the mind, body and spirit of those who visit.

Part of the large cluster of islands that form the Dodecanese in the southeastern Aegean Sea, uninhabited Giali is the visible portion of a submerged caldera that formed roughly 200,000 years ago. Deemed archaeologically and geologically significant due to its abundance of volcanic rocks, it has been plundered by mining and deforestation for decades; while small groups of tourists can visit the island’s three beaches for day trips, access to the mines is currently prohibited for safety reasons. With his concept, Mitsimponas repositions the island as a fully accessible destination — one that uses natural geothermal energy to maintain both a people-friendly thermal spa and a production plant for renewable energy to power it.

A scale model of the Giali proposal, with the upper level lifted to reveal a site plan
The concept of reuse of industrial sites tells quite a nice story about making something desirable in a place that has been exploited.
Jay Osgerby, AZ Awards Juror 2023

Taking direct inspiration from the porosity of pumice, the facility would comprise a series of interconnected subterranean cavities. On the human side, the spa experience begins up top, where visitors arrive at an excavated landscape with awe-inspiring vantage points and rest stops, a foot-soaking pool and views to the sunken courtyards below. Underground, the amenities are arranged in three stages — preparation, bath, relaxation — that guests can explore pragmatically or by following their curiosity. Included in the therapeutic experience are multiple hot and cold plunge pools, saunas, a gym, hydromassage, mud baths, a hammam and fragrant gardens. Water flows naturally throughout all the chambers, completely immersing bathers in an aquatic encounter.

All of this is fed by an integrated binary-cycle geothermal power plant, which suits the inactive volcanic region. It applies heat from fluid (steam, water or a mixture of both) to a secondary working fluid with a low boiling point (typically pentane, butane or isopentane); the resulting vapour is then used by the steam turbine and generator to expand and produce electricity — and the waste energy goes directly to the spa.

Winner: A+ Award for Student Work
People’s Choice: A+ Award for Student Work
Re-mining Giali

Dimitrios Mitsimponas’s Re-mining Giali proposal sees a pumice mine on a volcanic Greek island converted into a healing oasis.

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2017
Award of MeritA+ Award for Student Work
Location
Sharon, U.S.
School
design/buildLAB, Virginia Tech, U.S.
2014
Award of MeritA+ Award for Student Work
Designer
Rowan Liivamägi, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, British Columbia
2015
Award of MeritA+ Award for Student Work
Designer
Marta López Rubio, Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid, Spain