The Hadrian aqueduct, a Roman structure completed in 140 A.D., used to provide the North Athens Regional Unit of water. However, after the introduction of a new pipe system in the 1930s, the largely underground structure became forgotten and under-utilised.
The municipality of Halandri has initiated the project ‘Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T’, which has turned the aqueduct into the focal point of cultural, societal, economic and environmental development in the area. With an emphasis on participatory processes and citizen empowerment, 8.500m2 of public space has been regeneration, as well as several initiatives started to conserve and cultivate the cultural heritage attached to the aqueduct.
The municipality of Halandri, one of 12 municipalities of the North Athens Regional Unit, is home to the Roman Hadrian aqueduct. Close to the centre of Halandri, the aqueduct merges with the Rematia stream, a green ravine with dense forestry that has a protected status within the otherwise highly urbanized area. The aqueduct was completed in 140 A.D. and the 20 kilometre long structure used to provide 7 municipalities with water. This came to a stop in the early 1930s, when a new pipe system was introduced in Athens. Nowadays, several parts of the structure are heavily decayed, or even completely destroyed. Only one municipality, Metamorfosi, remains to actively utilize the water from the aqueduct for watering public green areas. 
Due to its largely underground nature, not only the aqueduct itself but also its cultural value are disappearing from the collective memory of local inhabitants. The municipality of Halandri has initiated action to turn this tide. With the project titled ‘Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T’, which stands for Cultural Hidden IDentities ReAppear through Networks of waTer, the aqueduct has become the focal point of cultural, societal, economic and environmental development in the area. 
Through the project, renovations have taken place that enable the Hadrian aqueduct to regain its original purpose of providing the city’s green spaces with water. Next to that, the aqueduct will be used as a lever for the conservation and cultivation of cultural capital, the building of community networks and the sustainable regeneration of public space. This way, the project operates across different axes to increase the community’s well-being. Drawing on elements of the commons, the project aims to cultivate a sense of ownership among the local community, and participatory methods, like participatory design workshops, are utilised to foster community engagement and empowerment. [1;2]
Approximately 8.500 m2 of public space is being regenerated, which includes the Hadrian Aqueduct and Roman wells; the stream banks and 4 ‘natural/cultural nodes’ defined through participatory processes. In order to stimulate awareness of cultural heritage, a local archive is being made that combines institutional and community knowledge about the aqueduct. This archive will be handed over to the local community who will manage, expand and promote the archive. A yearly festival is envisioned to aid promotion of the regained cultural heritage. The first edition of this festival was held in September 2021. Next to that, actions are undertaken to engage schools and residents, among other through workshops, gaming activities and public meetings. [1;2]
By revitalizing the Hadrian Aqueduct, an ancient yet still functioning roman water infrastructure, the Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T. project taps in and activates local cultural capital, including tangible and intangible heritage & natural and man-made resources. At the same time, by employing participatory processes, the project engages the local communities in an innovative way and re-introduces a roman monument of high cultural and natural significance into the everyday urban life. Within this framework, the Hadrian Aqueduct is approached and constituted as:
All three aspects compose an inseparable whole leading to the project’s major result: the improvement of local well-being.
The project is executed as a cooperation between different partners, including: the Municipality of Halandri, Commonspace Coop (a cooperative design agency), Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company, the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MediNA), Regional Development Institute of Panteion University (RDI), Ohi Pezoume Performing Arts (a non-profit performing arts organization) and the East Attica Ephorate of Antiquities (EoA) (an agency of the Ministry of Culture). 
Throughout the project, different participatory techniques are used to involve residents in the management of the cultural heritage and natural resources attached to the Hardian aqueduct and increase citizen empowerment. [1;2]
The project is under the management of the Municipality of Chalandri, however, it functions with a cooperative governance structure which includes seven more partners besides the municipality, including local citizens’ groups as stakeholders of the project.
Each partner is responsible for the implementation and management of specific working packages (WPs) or activities. Yet, decisions are taken collectively through weekly coordination meetings. In addition, there are informal working meetings among partners which cooperate on specific WPs and activities. To ensure the smooth progress and quality of the project there is also a Steering Committee (SC) which convenes approximately four times per year.
Aim of such cooperative governance structure is to cultivate the ground for the self-management of various outcomes of Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T. Thus, the project is in the process of constituting citizen led bodies and communities which will take over:
Those bodies and communities will form the HIDRANT communities network after the end of the project and they will co-manage the HIDRANT platform as a joint digital medium of communication and space of deliberation, coordination and decision making.
The project is executed within the framework of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), an initiative of the European Union that provides urban areas with resources from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to test innovative solutions that address urban challenges. [1;2] A total of €3.133.296,00 has been granted by ERDF. 
The project is funded by EU’s Urban Innovative Actions program, by public (e.g. the Municipality of Chalandri, Green Fund) and private funds (e.g. partner’s contributions). So far a quarter of the total budget has been spent on the construction of the main water infrastructure, which corresponds to about 70% of the project’s budget.
Cultural H.ID.RA.N.T., initiative website, https://culturalhidrant.eu/, accessed on 09-05-2022
Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), Cultural H.ID.RA.NT Journal no.1, available at https://uia-initiative.eu/en/news/cultural-hidrant-journal-no1#eu-national-and-regional-policy-framework, accessed on 09-05-2022
Urban Innovation Actions (UIA), organisational website, https://uia-initiative.eu/en, accessed on 09-05-2022