By Constantinos Psillides
THE INDEPENDENT initiative, aiming at producing design proposals to turn Famagusta into a model reunited ecocity, is entering its fourth day today, with project members evaluating ideas ahead of a public presentation tomorrow.
The public presentation and discussion will take place at 2pm at the building of St. Peter & Paul (Bugday Cami).
Vasia Markides, who spearheads the project said she has been trying to address the reservations expressed by some Famagustians who asked that the city stays as it is.
“Probably what a lot of the Famagustians are longing for, when they talk about moving back to our city the way it was, is to go back to a time when people sat on their balconies, when there weren’t air conditioning units closing us off and people engaged one another, kids riding their bikes and people walking by,” she said.
“That’s what we are aiming for. A people-friendly, sustainable, modern city.” She clarified that in the event of a Cyprus solution residents would have the option to refuse having their homes demolished and rebuilt from scratch.
Markides underlined that it would be a great success for the project if they were able to produce a blueprint that could be utilised not only for Famagusta but by any community in the world.
She warned however that without a pre-agreed plan for the rebuilding of the city, things could go terribly wrong in the event of re-opening.
The ecocity project is gathering a lot of support, especially after the BBC run an extensive coverage of the case on a story titled “Varosha: The abandoned tourist resort”.
According to Fiona Mullen, an economist and member of the ecocity project, the story gathered more than two million hits on the BBC webpage.
Famagustians aren’t the only ones delighted in the project taking flight. According to George Lordos, an energy specialist who is also part of the project, a woman from Kyrenia stood up during one of the public discussions and admitted she was jealous of Famagustians who “are strides ahead from us Kyrenians”.
Lordos said that the ecocity initiative was a massive challenge that would help bring Famagusta and Varosha back to life.
“The principles of synergy, cooperation, coexistence and partnership will guide our hands and lead us to our goal,” he had said.
The project’s design studio is led by MIT professor and ecocity specialist Jan Wampler, who 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.
Wampler laid out his vision of the city, while at the same time explaining that the city “is its people”, not the necessarily the buildings.
The entirety of this endeavour is documented by Markides for an upcoming documentary with money raised from a Kickstarter campaign. If you can contribute at (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/320929240/the-famagusta-ecocity-project-a-documentary)