Close to 100 participants will take part in the five-day Famagusta Ecocity Project Design Studio launching tomorrow to draft a range of design proposals for turning the ghost town of Varosha and the wider Famagusta area into a model reunited ecocity, fit for the 21st century.
The design studio, led by distinguished MIT professor and ecocity specialist Jan Wampler, will work with 16 architecture graduate students from the University of South Florida, 11 Cypriot students, both Greek and Turkish-Cypriot, as well as dozens of stakeholders and experts from both communities.
"Our aim is not to come up with a single plan but to promote a dialogue between stakeholders, experts, designers and interested members of the public on the range of possibilities that this unique and deeply loved city offers not only to Cyprus, but the entire region," said project founder and filmmaker, Vasia Markides.
In keeping with the bi-communal spirit of the project, the studio will take place on both sides of the UN-monitored buffer zone.
Tomorrow, the students and team members will kick off the project with a tour of the Venetian walled city of Famagusta and a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot Mayor of Famagusta, Oktay Kayalp, who will give his perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of revitalising Famagusta.
Later on the same day, the group moves south of the buffer zone to the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre in Dherynia, for the launch of the specialist panels in an opening ceremony at 1.30pm addressed by the Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos and Nobel Laureate Professor of Economics Christopher Pissarides.
Welcome speeches will also be given by the chairman of the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce and Industry George Michaelides and former KTTO president, Hasan K. Ince, by the Ambassador of Austria, Karl Mueller who has been a keen supporter of the project, by Prof Jan Wampler and by the Famagusta Ecocity Project's initial visionaries, mother-and-daughter pair Dr Emily Markides and Vasia Markides.
From tomorrow to Saturday the design studio will be located at the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre in Dherynia and all events there will be open to the public. These events will be structured around nine bi-communal specialist presentations and panel discussion sessions: 1) Famagusta Revival: Business Stakeholders; 2) Economics for Sustainable Job Creation; 3) History, Culture and Community; 4) Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution; 5) Coastal and Environmental Engineering; 6) Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture; 7) Civil Engineering; 8) Urban Planning for Sustainable Cities; 9) Architecture.
Each panel will consist of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots - mostly Famagustians - with expertise in their specific field. A small number of specialists from abroad will also participate in some panels.
"We found that nine subject-specific discussion panels open to the public was the best way to ensure as wide a stakeholder and expert participation as possible," said Famagustian and Cyprus-based project director George Lordos.
On Sunday morning the design teams will work within the Walled City at the MASDER building, and on Monday at 2pm the students and team members will return back inside the Walled City where the student-led design teams will make their presentations at a public discussion inside the beautiful building of St Peter & Paul (Bugday Cami), which was recently restored. All events will be in the English language.
"We are grateful to the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative, Famagusta Walled City Association (MASDER) and two mayors of Famagusta; Kayalp and Galanos for generously making available to us these iconic buildings with large, comfortable work spaces for our Design Studio. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Cypriot experts, stakeholders and students as our University of South Florida student teams continue to work on their ideas for the rest of this semester," said Professor Wampler.