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Nearly 100 participants to launch the Famagusta Ecocity Project

14 January, 2014

Approximately 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. 

According to a press release, 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. (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/320929240/the-famagusta-ecocity-project-a-documentary).
In keeping with the bi-communal spirit of the project, the studio will take place on both sides of the UN-monitored buffer zone. On Thursday 16th 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 in Derynia, for the launch of the specialist panels in an opening ceremony addressed by the Greek Cypriot Mayor of Famagusta, 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 & 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 Emily Markides and Vasia Markides.

From Thursday to Saturday the design studio will be located at the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre in Derynia 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.

On Sunday morning the design teams will work within the Walled City at the MASDER building, and on Monday 20th 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.

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