# unused spaces
# new entrepreneurship
# creative workshops
# new economy
The recent economic crisis and the subsequent decay of commercial activity in Athens have created large reserve of unexploited building infrastructure which reaches 30% in the ground floor area of the city. At the same time creative teams and representatives of the new enterpreneurship lack the necessary resources for temporary or permanent use roof.
Traces of Commerce is an initiative to activate the Merchants' Arcade and its stores aiming to the re-contextualization of these spaces according to the new needs of the area and those who use it in order to re-enter the urban fabric of the city center. Having remained inactive for 10 years, the empty shops of the gallery turned into small workshops producing new activities.
Following an open call, the Merchants Arcade shops were allocated pro bono to creative groups and small business partnerships, which experimented on dipole "old-new trade" and transformed the ground floor of the arcade into a "transparent" experimental workshop where experience and knowledge were exchanged through learning seminars, exhibition of new ideas and products, open presentations, screenings, discussions and other activities.
Traces of Commerce was designed by architects Harris Biskos, Martha Giannakopoulou and Klelia Thermou under the direct program interventions in urban space and the commercial activity of central Athens, "Project Athens' of the City of Athens. It was supported by the City of Athens and the Athens Development and Destinations Management Agency who in collaberation with the Freelancers' Insurance Organizations provided the Merchants' Arcade shops and covered theιρ operating costs (electricity, water, internet connection).
The initiative's success highlighted the facilitating role of the City of Athens for granting vacant buildings to creative citizens, offered networking opportunities to young entrepreneurs of the city while it leverages the adoption of a regulation which allows temporary use of buildings.