By Stefanos Evripidou
THE Home for Cooperation (H4C), a once dilapidated building worn down by decades of neglect and isolation in the Nicosia buffer zone, has won the Europa Nostra 2014 ‘Conservation’ award along with 12 other laureates.
The winners of this year’s European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/ Europa Nostra Awards were unveiled yesterday by the European Commission and Europa Nostra.
In total, 27 laureates selected from 160 nominated projects across 30 countries were honoured yesterday for achievements in four areas: conservation; research; dedicated service; and, education, training and awareness-raising.
Thirteen locations across Europe were awarded for conservation, including Cyprus’ H4C, a project implemented by the non-governmental and inter-communal organisation, Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).
The Η4C, located opposite the Ledra Palace Hotel, is used as an educational and training centre and meeting place for academics, educators and members of society from both sides of the dividing line.
The Home is the brainchild of AHDR and was established in 2011, following renovation of the bullet-ridden building, built in the early 1950s. The project was funded by EEA and Norway Grants.
“The Europa Nostra award does not only reward a team effort but also a collective vision of a shared future for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots based on the values of cooperation, solidarity and mutual trust and respect,” said Kyriakos Pachoulides, AHDR head.
According to Europa Nostra’s website, the H4C building has become “a unique peace project in Cyprus, because, whereas other buildings in the area, still by their condition and neglect, portray conflict and division, this one now clearly stands for cooperation and unity.”
It also provides a “shared space that can be used by all” for the advance of research and dialogue and critical thinking, it said, adding: “It thus symbolises the philosophy of the Cypriot communities working together, in collaboration with the international community – ideals of course shared by Europa Nostra.”
Europa Nostra said the jury felt that the Home for Cooperation was something to be “really proud of”, which constitutes a substantial contribution to the revitalisation of Nicosia’s buffer zone as well as to the wider peacemaking process.
“Furthermore, it represents a typical example of the 1950s architecture of Cyprus, which finds few supporters but which we are again starting to see as a brave and distinctive statement of the character of its period.”
EU Education and Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou congratulated this year’s winners, noting that Europe’s heritage is one of its most precious assets. “It builds bridges between the past and present, promotes growth, fosters social inclusion and attracts tourism.”
Opera singer and Europa Nostra President Plácido Domingo said this year’s achievements demonstrate that, “even in challenging economic circumstances, heritage projects can mobilise talented and passionate people and rally support from public and private sources”, adding, “thanks to their skills, commitment and generosity, numerous historic sites have been revitalised and the lives of so many individuals have been embellished and enriched.”
An award ceremony will take place on May 5, at the Burgtheater in Vienna, under the patronage of the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer. The awards will be jointly presented by Vassiliou and Domingo.
Six of the winners will be named as Grand Prix laureates, receiving €10,000 each, and one will receive the Public Choice Award, chosen in an online poll conducted by Europa Nostra.
As well as celebrating excellence in cultural heritage work, the EU Prize aims to promote high quality skills and standards in conservation.