MONDAY, 17 FEB 2020



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Famagusta Ecocity Project Launch

Famagusta Ecocity Project Launch

Close to 100 participants will take part in the five-day Famagusta Ecocity Project Design Studio launching on Thursday 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 Cyprus, but the entire region,” said project founder and filmmaker, Vasia Markides, who will be recording the studio for an upcoming documentary with money raised from a successful crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign. 

In keeping with the bicommunal spirit of the project, the studio will take place on both sides of the UN-monitored buffer zone. On Thursday 16 , 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 revitalizing Famagusta. 

Later on the same day, the group moves south of the buffer zone to the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre at Dherynia, for the launch of the specialist panels in an opening ceremony at 1:30pm addressed by the Greek Cypriot Mayor of Famagusta, Alexis Galanos and Nobel Laureate Professor of Economics, Sir Christopher Pissarides.  

Welcome speeches will also be given by the President of the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce & 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 Thursday 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 bicommunal 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 20th at 2:00 p.m. the students and team members will return inside the Walled City where the student-led design teams will make their presentations at a public discussion inside the recently restored Church of Saints Peter & Paul (Bugday Cami). 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.

The Famagusta Ecocity Project Design Studio is a rare example of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots working together towards a shared vision. 

"People fall in love with a place which forms an endless bond nothing and no one can ever replace. Famagustians will gather together after 40 years with a shared love for their city," said Ceren Bogac, who grew up in a house overlooking the Varosha ghost city. 

With only enough money from private donations and the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung to fund part of the costs of hosting the studio and making the film, the Famagusta Ecocity Project has been a labour of love for the core team members, Vasia Markides, Ceren Bogac, George Lordos, Armando Garma-Fernandez, Emily Markides and Fiona Mullen. 


“This is a tremendous opportunity to discuss ways to ensure not only our peaceful coexistence as united Famagustians, but also to consider the vastly changing global ecological landscape around us and our future role within it,” said Emily Markides. 


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