Any reopening of the 40-year old militarily occupied ghost town of Varosha, a district of historic Famagusta on the Eastern coast of Cyprus, presents a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and rebuild for a better future. Yet it comes with significant risks. Without careful planning, it could become just another unsustainable development in an already crowded Mediterranean tourism market, while cementing Famagusta as the second divided city in Cyprus.
Because ecocities are all about sustainability. That means not just environmental, which of course we urgently need, but economic sustainability – not just the same old over-borrowing to pour concrete for cheap tourists. And most of all it means political sustainability.
Whatever happens with the Cyprus problem, the region of Famagusta is likely to fall across two administrative boundaries. That can be a source of tension or it can be a source of flourishing cooperation. So political sustainability means using best practices to engage citizens and other stakeholders in planning decisions that will affect their lives. It means bringing people – mayors, planners, citizens, property owners, residents, students – together to talk. It means integrated transport. It means integrated water management.
It means cooperating to promote the whole of the Famagusta region, with all its fantastic cultural and natural heritage – from the wetlands to Salamis, to the old back streets of Varosha and monuments in the walled city – to the whole world.
The Project Core Team
A Kickstarter campaign started to initiate both the project and the documentary. Our campaign raised $33,842 for the production costs of our documentary film, and the launch of the architectural design studio in January. The design studio was paid for with $20,000 in private donations and a small grant of 2,000 Euros from the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation
Spreading the vision through media
BBC Magazine article published same week, the 2nd most shared article of the day with over 2 million hits by day 3 of its publication!
After 40 years of silence, we put Famagusta on the global map.
Organizing public panels with bicommunal experts
Meetings with the two mayors of the city from both sides
We brought together 9 panels comprising over 60 Greek and Turkish Cypriot specialists and stakeholders.
These nine panel presentations were open to the public.
Large number of Famagustians from both sides, space filled to capacity, active participation in the dialogue, some met for first time in 40 years.
Developing initial design ideas
City walk with an art historian
The well-known art historian Rita Severis gave a free walking tour of Famagusta to the Famagusta Ecocity Project participants.
Led by MIT Professor & Global Expert in Sustainable City Design Jan Wampler
Team 1: Samuel Alamo, Marcela Arango, Ryan Dyer
Team 2: Georgina Karakasilis, Andres Moguel, Christian Stanley, Brian Watts
Team 3: Tatiana Larue, Sally Plunkett, Israel Sanchez
Team 4: Maeghann Coleman, Jay Powell, Susan Stimmel
Team 5: Daniella Covate, Juan Ferreira, Chris Galbraith
Workshop with students
A design studio organized with the Master of Architecture students University of South Florida together with architecture, planning and engineering students from both sides of Cyprus to develop initial design ideas for an ecocity (some of them meeting fellow Cypriots from the “other side” for the first time).
Participating Turkish And Greek Cypriot Architects, Architect Candidates and Engineering Students:
Stavros Adamou, Student of Civil Engineering
Nilay Birsel, Architect, PhD Candidate
Cemaliye Eken, Architect, PhD Candidate
Elena Kourti, Student of Civil Engineering
Marina Oratiou, Student of Architectural Engineerings
Safiye Özaltiner, Architect, PhD Candidate
Sotiris Pavlides, Student of Civil Engineering
Andriani Souzou, Student of Architectural Engineering
Bedia Tekbiyik, Architect, Phd Candidate
Despo Thoma, Student of Architectural Engineering
Gökhan Varol, Architect, Phd Candidate
Public Presentation of Initial Design Ideas
The student’s design proposals were shared with the public and discussions conducted based on the ideas.
St. Peter & Paul Church
Presentation of Initial Design Ideas to Invited guests
The student’s design proposals were also shared with the invites guests such as EU diplomats, Cypriot politicians, investors etc.
The Goethe Institute
Turkish Cypriot Elected Leader Mustafa Akıncı has supported our initiative from day one:
“It is A remarkable private initiative that promotes in A meaningful way the issues of Famagusta and contributes positively to the efforts of the municipality to return the occupied city.”
Republic of Cyprus Government Spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides told that The Government of Cyprus Agrees that An Ecocity is:
“The Best and Most Logical Way Forward for Famagusta’s Revival.”
(Former) Greek Cypriot Mayor of Famagusta Alexis Galanos to Famagusta Gazette, January 14, 2017 (Kype) mentioned his support to the project.
“We need to get this team to go in and survey every building and see what is needed. Now. We need to do this now.”
Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs,Republic of Cyprus
“What has happened her is an historic event, one that I have not seen in any other place…and event that the whole world needs.”
Jan Wampler, MIT Professor/Architect
“For the sake of Famagusta, and in the spirit of uniting this divided city, I wish you to be a fleet of icebreakers, armed with hopes and dreams.”
H.E. Dr. Karl Müller, Former Austrian Ambassador to Cyprus
“This would be the place where scientists, engineers, architects and many others would go to share and learn. All these people will benefit the island in many ways: historical preservation, development, tourism, job creation, and peace.”
Bernard Amadei, Founder Engineers Without Borders
A pilot project to demonstrate the vision of the Ecocity Project with the Home for Cooperation
The Home for Cooperation is a unique community center located in the heart of Nicosia. It is the embodiment of intercommunal cooperation, contributing to the collective efforts of civil society in their engagement with peacebuilding and intercultural dialogue. Using its resources, it encourages people to cooperate with each other beyond constraints and dividing lines.
The Home for Cooperation essentially aims to act as a bridge-builder between separated communities, memories and visions.
Members of the Ecocity Project team together with the members of the Home for Cooperation who are involved in this partnership include Lefki Lambrou and Lefkia Heracleous, with Jessica Hench facilitating the connectivity between the two.
“Greening” the Home for Cooperationwith a targeted donation from ESTIA NGO. Environmental architect Roger Kelly has been helping on how to reduce its carbon footprint and energy costs. This is all subject to permissions from the various authorities, as well as secured funding. But we hope to see some photovoltaic panels and other small-scale infrastructure for better water and energy management.
Design of an “Edible Fruit Forest” or public park in the moat behind the H4C. Imagine people from both sides of the divide coming together to design the space that has been standing idle and in-between them all these years, literally planting seeds together and enjoying the fruits of their labor. This would be like North and South Koreans coming together to co-design and then share part of the demilitarized zone- which needs lots of permissions.
The project is introduced to the public during the preview of the Vasia Markides’s documentary “Waking Famagusta”.
The Ecocity Project’s Participatory Planning Ideas
As the Eacocity Project team, we are working on combining the latest technologies and best practices to use participatory urban planning as a peacebuilding tool. We know urban issues of common concern tend to create social alliances and transcend ethnic ones. And we have found this through our project. Our team member’s Nektarios Chsitodoulou research on GC and TC participants of the ecocity project recorded decreased levels of prejudice and increased levels of trust after engaging in issues of common concern. We want to build on that. To design a participatory planning process that would allow people from both sides of the divide – with no architectural or planning background – to come together and essentially co-design the city. There is a lot of potential for technology here – things like virtual reality and other immersive technologies – if the funding can be found.