Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T.

CULTURAL Hidden IDentities ReAppear through Networks of WaTer

Edited on 10/01/2024

Project proposal by

  • Institution : Municipality of Chalandri
  • City : Chalandri
  • Country : Greece
  • Type of region : Transition
  • Population : 77 118

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  • Project Partners

The Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T. (CH)  project utilises the abandoned, but still functioning, Hadrian Aqueduct in Chalandri (Greece) as a vehicle for green/blue urban regeneration and as a means to revitalise community life. It brings back into everyday use an ancient, hidden and unused water resource, making it useful for residents by meeting their non-drinking water needs and adding value to the city's heritage and ecological status.


The project approaches the Hadrian Aqueduct as a common cultural heritage, combining local history, common water resource, and an asset for a green/blue regeneration. It suggests a mode of sustainable urban development that utilises diverse resources and actors in a concerted way, aiming to increase local wellbeing. In this process the project engaged local communities from the outset, establishing participative processes and structures that will ensure the durability and upscaling of the project's outcomes.  


What SOLUTIONS did the Urban Innovative Action project offer?


In recent decades, Chalandri's development has focused on services and leisure, straining urban resources. This has jeopardised the sense of community, belonging and the city’s identity, caused traffic issues, weak access and low walkability in green public spaces. The CH project tackles the degradation of urban environment and local wellbeing; climate change through sustainable water management; and community building through citizens’ engagement. The project is innovative for its:  


  1. Cross-sectoral approach, which integrates cultural, social, environmental, economic resources and policies; 

  1. Participative co-design and governance, with local people driving local projects, and communities taking ownership of public assets;  

  1. Creative heritage regeneration, breaking with a sightseeing conservationist approach toward a sustainable and circular economy approach that re-utilises idle (tangible and intangible) resources as common assets;  

  1. Scaling-up of a pilot project for Hadrian Aqueduct’s regeneration to regional level.

What DIFFERENCE has it made at local level?


The project has increased public green spaces, highlighted the city’s cultural heritage and sense of belonging, developed a citizen-centred sustainable water infrastructure, and established institutions for managing urban resources. 


  1. It re-introduced Hadrian Aqueduct as a heritage site and a functioning water resource (4 000m pipe-network, 100 smart meters, 2 water tracks, 200 households);  

  1. It revitalised communities through participatory actions (over 1 000 people engaged in CH’s activities); 

  1. It promoted green urban policies on sustainable water use and green spaces (25 000m3 water annual-savings, 21 400m2 green regeneration in 4 sites);  

  1. It developed a local history archive and a digital platform administered by a citizen-group;  

  1. It established co-organising cultural events (e.g. annual HIDRANT festival) with the city’s communities to promote new awareness on water and urban resources management and sustainable use;  

  1. It establishes citizen-led institutions for caretaking of water, natural and urban resources, and infrastructures.

What PARTICIPATORY APPROACHES have been put in place for the project?

Cultural HIDRANT brings together 8 partners with specialist knowledge, 2 local citizen groups and 13 school communities. It builds on previous experience of the city administration with participatory budgeting and of citizens' movement for the protection of the Rematia stream.


Operationally, what distinguishes the project is its cross-sectoral approach, its co-operative system governance scheme and the inclusion of citizens from the design and implementation stage to the management of its outcomes. Citizens’ participation has been critical in co-designing the regeneration plans and parts of the water delivery system, in documenting the Hadrian Aquaduct's history and in co-organising cultural and public events. The novel and ecofriendly character of the new 'Hadrian' network, the first urban non-potable water network accessible by individuals in the EU, has made the citizens of Chalandri proud and encouraged their participation.


What's more, enabling the use of the Hadrian water provides a very simple way for everyone to contribute to the struggle against climate change. As a result, new co-management bodies have been formed, such as the Local history archive group ( The Hadrian water caretaking community and the Hadrian Network of Citizens on a metropolitan level – a prototype of sustainable water management useful to other cities and communities, too - are currently under development and will be formed by spring.

How does the project tackle different aspects with an INTEGRATED APPROACH?

By focusing on the use value of Hadrian Aqueduct as a common resource, both tangible (e.g. water-network, ancient monument) and intangible (e.g. local memory, environmental awareness), the project re-introduced it into the city's everyday life, while responding to immediate residents' needs and wider issues (e.g. public/green spaces, sustainable water use, climate change). From the outset the project engaged residents and communities to establish participative processes that will ensure the sustainability of the project's outcomes. Thus, the CH project uses the flows of a circular water infrastructure and the ambience of an ancient monument to strengthen and revitalise the local sense of identity, belonging, (shared) ownership and community.


What distinguishes this approach is its cross-sectoral nature and the circular and citizen inclusive logic of water management. This allows for a) urban regeneration based on endogenous resources (human, natural, built), b) meeting residents needs while promoting sustainable water/urban infrastructure and use, c) cultivating a culture of collaborative governance and active citizenship, and d) delivering a vision and prototype for future upscaling of sustainable water management. 

Why should other European cities use the solution the project explored?

The regeneration of a neglected ancient urban water source and the greening of everyday urban spaces are important means to counter the local effects of climate crisis, enhance residents’ wellbeing and nurture both resilient cities and environment/resource-caring awareness, habits and culture. As drought threatens even water-rich areas, safeguarding water through people's responsible habits, combining ancient wisdom with modern solutions, not only restores natural resources but also strengthens communities through collaborative initiatives. This helps build trust and enhances democracy and solidarity, through active citizenship around water infrastructure. Such an integrative approach breaks with habitual rules, structures and customs of policymaking, as it cross-fertilises historic and cultural heritage development with sustainable urban and infrastructural management via civic participation.