This paper is based on the theoretical implications of a recent (1996_97) research project where the author participated. It concerned the area of Epano Skala on the northern port of Mitilene, capital of Lesbos island. Epano Skala was occupied by a Turkish community, replaced after 1922 by Greek refugees from Asia Minor. It has since remained stagnant in contrast to the southern part of the city. A prominent feature there is the presence of neglected Turkish monuments and chance archeological finds, some exhibited in situ. Despite current trends which promote socio_economic segregation, with the blessing of both planners and politicians and in perfect harmony with the demands of consumerism, a city remains the uncontested locus of modern life. It may be fragmented, a mirror of social and economic inequalities, yet it remains a phenomenological entity that endlessly challenges the notions of identity and of meaning in life. Therefore the case lies squarely on the twofold issue of its legibility of intentions and of the end product. The Epano Skala research project thus addressed itself to 3 distinct levels: Policy. User preferences by inhabitants and planning initiatives by local authorities (politicians and planning officials) fail to identify the genuine character of the area and will eventually cause its demise. A planner's role is not to succumb to dominant trends for development but to challenge such catastrophic notions regardless of local prejudice and of strong reactions due to vested interests. Research. Conservation is routinely connected to singled_out ruins and monuments. Yet the patient search in situ for clues may lead to a definition of locus geared to daily life, here named Archeology of the City'. This leads to a revelation of the area's hidden structure, thus history and collective memory are restored as prime sources of identity. Their presence though should be implicit, sometimes indecipherable, thus avoiding exploitation by consumerism. Design. Discreet, low-profile intervention is currently considered ideal for any planning situation. Nevertheless contemporary design badly needs the nerve and audacity of large_scale gestures which are solely capable of reversing the tables and re_educate both politicians, experts and public.