About the Project
For a summarized history of Cyprus and the demise of Famagusta, please take a moment to read this.
We are a team of mainly Cypriots and Famagustians from both sides of the divide who aim to promote a sustainable city for the benefit of the whole island.
About The Famagusta Ecocity Project
The Famagusta Ecocity is our vision for an integrated, sustainable, environmentally responsible Famagusta that promotes peaceful coexistence among all of its inhabitants and embraces the latest environmental and urban technologies. In our vision, the Famagusta Ecocity will be a centre for peace and sustainability within a troubled region and a magnet for high-quality trade, commerce, tourism and investment. We do not take a position on when Varosha should be returned. The core project team is made up primarily of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who were either born in or hail from Famagusta. You can find more about the team at https://www.ecocityproject.org/team/.
a. Education & Outreach (design studio, public town hall events, film & book)
b. Developing a Participatory Planning methodology
c. Creating test sites in other parts of the island to showcase the latest ecocity technologies and practices (H4C).
Activities to date
2014 Architectural Design Studio January 2014: 63 local specialists and stakeholders comprising mainly GC-TC Famagustians with MIT Professor Jan Wampler & his students from University of South Florida. Town Hall meetings.
Ongoing: Post-production fundraising for Waking Famagusta documentary film (projected release 2020).
Ongoing: Public outreach (media, students, academics, international community).
2017-18: Famagusta Ecocity official NGO set-up. Began seeking viable projects that will engage stakeholders and demonstrate ecocity principles, including:
Renovating a home/building in line with ecocity principles.
Developing a participatory planning process for the city.
Why Famagusta needs an ecocity
The issue of Varosha, the uninhabited ‘ghost city’ in the district of Famagusta, has traditionally been a source of tension between the two communities. However, it also represents an opportunity to transform the issue into a force for peace. Even with a settlement of the Cyprus problem, Famagusta will be a city and a district that falls across two administrative boundaries. This could create new tensions.
Engaging stakeholders in the creation of a common vision for an integrated, sustainable and prosperous Famagusta Ecocity, spanning the whole district, will support mutual cooperation, attract investors for cutting-edge technologies, and bring sustainable employment opportunities for the young. In the event of twin referendums on a settlement deal, the Famagusta Ecocity will also give Cypriots “a big idea”, with clear broad benefits, about which everyone can get excited.
Global ecocity principles
Respects the rights of humans and nature to coexist in a healthy and sustainable relationship of inter-dependence
Is based on stakeholder engagement
Relies on renewable energy sources
Produces little to no waste
Focuses on economic and ecological security
Provides empowerment, responsibility and a high quality of life
To see what we achieved in the initial stages of our project, go here.
2014 Kickstarter Campaign Video
Director of Waking Famagusta and Founder/Creative Director of The Famagusta Ecocity Project; A painter originally, Vasia completed her first documentary short in 2008. Hidden in the Sand is a chronicle of her mother’s hometown under Turkish occupation, which is now off limits within the six-square kilometer fenced off abandoned district of Varosha. Hidden in the Sand has screened in venues and festivals across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, France and Portugal. As a video producer, Vasia has worked with clients such as Oxfam America, Global Nomads Group and other human rights organizations. After launching the Famagusta Ecocity Project and directing a documentary about the effort, her team’s work gained worldwide media attention (CNN, BBC, Associated Press, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Boston Globe, ABC News, U.S. News & World Report, and TedX Limassol). In addition to working on her personal projects, she freelances as a filmmaker and video producer in Maine, New York City, and Cyprus.
Famagusta native; Professor of Permaculture and Building Sustainable communities; Doctoral degree in Counselor Education (University of Maine). reas of special interest are the creation of sustainable and EcoPeace communities, spirituality, and permaculture design which melds ecology, agriculture and human settlement. She wrote her dissertation on Complementary Energetic Practices: An Exploration into the World of Maine Women Healers. She has written articles on “Creating a Stable World Peace,” “From Poetry to Community Building,” and “Energetic Healing and its Correspondence to Eastern Orthodox Spirituality.” The ideals that have inspired her work over the years, in terms of both theory and praxis, have been in the area of institution building. She has pursued those ideals in Cyprus by becoming the founder of a Women’s Studies Center/Peace Center and the International Eco-Peace Village (IEV). She served as a Commonwealth Peace Consultant in Cyprus. She also helped to launch a new program in Peace Studies at the University of Maine and served as its first Interim Director from 1988-91. Since 2004 she has founded and served as President of ESTIA, The International EcoPeace Community (www.estiamaine.org). Emily is committed to issues of personal, social and global change, spirituality, peace and ecological sustainability.
Fiona Mullen has been providing independent economic analysis to an international audience for over 20 years. She founded Sapienta Economics Ltd in 2006 and is the author of the monthly Sapienta Country Analysis Cyprus. She has written extensively on the economics of a Cyprus settlement, including several publications co-authored with Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Mullen was economy adviser to the United Nations good offices mission from 2008 to early 2016 and author of the Cyprus reports for the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) from 2002 to 2015. Before living in Cyprus Mullen was Director of the EIU’s flagship Country Reports. In 2017 she co-founded Facilitas Advisory, a media communications and government relations advisory firm.
Dr. Boğaç was born in Famagusta on 1979. She has a Master in Architecture and a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology from Eastern Mediterranean University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of architecture at EMU. Her specific areas of expertise are architectural psychology, environmental meaning, environmental design and place attachment studies. She has publications in environmental meaning and place attachment studies both at the national and international level. Between 2010-2011, she received a scholarship from the European Commission and completed research about ‘Intercultural dialogue and active learning in design studio’ at the Academy of Art Design and Architecture in Prague/ Czech Republic. She has also been involved in many EU funded civil society projects based on human rights and is a board member of the INTBAU Cyprus Chapter. Besides her academic works, she has many awarded and published short stories in Turkish.
Nektarios Christodoulou is an Urban Planner and a PhD Grant Holder at the University of Cyprus. He graduated first in his class from the Department of Planning and Regional Development at the University of Thessaly, (2010) and then continued for postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge where he obtained an MPhil in Planning Growth and Regeneration (2011). He has participated in numerous urban projects in Cyprus and he is currently working on his PhD thesis entitled “Planning in Contested Cities: The case of Famagusta’’.
Architect, Energy Assessor and Sustainability Consultant. Studied at the Polytechnic of Central London, worked in the Housing Association sector and taught sustainable architecture in the UK and Cyprus before becoming Director of the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales (UK), the International Eco.peace Village in Cyprus and Energy Solutions in London. More recently taught architectural contexts and environmental technology at the Hull School of Architecture (UK).
Armando is the Co-founder of the Famagusta Ecocity Project; Architect, Educator, and Visual Artist who is preoccupied with the environment and the construction of energy conscious infrastructure. His work as an architect focuses on renovation, restoration, adaptive reuse and the socially responsible use of resources. When he isn't being an architect, he is a video producer and motion graphics creator.
Christina Elia is a Greek-Cypriot Architect. She has obtained a BA (Hons) in Architecture from the University of Brighton, UK and a MSc in Architecture and Sustainability from KU Leuven (LUCA) University in Belgium. Her master thesis focused on ecological architecture and urban sustainability; "The Transformation from a Highway to a Sustainable Urban District". After her graduation she was part of a team working on the architectural competition for the medical school building facilities of University of Cyprus. She is currently working as an architect in Larnaca.
Click here to see more details about what we have achieved.
A brief history of Varosha/Famagusta:
The district of Varosha in the city of Famagusta, is located on the northeastern coast of Cyprus, a divided island. Following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and subsequent evacuation of Famagusta by its Greek-Cypriot residents, the Turkish army surrounded six square kilometers of the Varosha tourist district in barbed wire and has held it as a ghost town since. As the residents fled in haste, they left laundry hanging on the lines and half cooked rice on the stove. Forty-four years later, Varosha remains a shell of a once vibrant community; a mere bargaining chip for Turkey's negotiations with Cyprus. Its crumbling buildings are guarded by armed troops to this day, as its aging citizens continue to await a return home.
Waking Famagusta provides a historic snapshot of one of the most conflict-ridden regions in Europe revealed through a mother-daughter story of ancestral awakening. In 2003, Vasia Markides, captivated by her mother’s stories of her birthplace, Famagusta, decided to cross the divide and visit her maternal ancestral land – a trip that would prove to be life-changing. The film follows Vasia’s 15-year fixation with Famagusta and her mother’s dream of bringing divided Greek and Turkish Cypriots together to create a model ecocity at the crossroads of three continents.
Support our Documentary
Currently we are in post-production, and seeking finishing funds.
To make a tax-deductible donation (under the 501c3 tax code), please visit our fiscal sponsor page:
Q. What is the Famagusta Ecocity?
The Famagusta Ecocity is our vision for an integrated, sustainable, and environmentally responsible Famagusta that promotes peaceful coexistence amongst all of its inhabitants and embraces the latest environmental and urban technologies. What started out as a plan to revive Varosha, the captive ghost district of Famagusta, grew into something much more integrated with the needs of the island. In our vision, the Famagusta Ecocity will be a centre for peace and sustainability within a troubled region and a magnet for high-quality trade, commerce, tourism and investment.
Q: How will you put this vision into practice?
We will put this into practice through The Famagusta Ecocity Project, which has the following elements:
1) January 2014: Design Studio: An architectural design studio run by the renowned MIT Professor Jan Wampler, with input from 15 of his own students, Cypriot students and Cypriot stakeholders from both communities, as well as specialists from other disciplines. The design studio was hosted by the Famagusta Municipality Cultural Centre in Deryneia, adjacent to the UN-monitored buffer zone overlooking the ghost city of Varosha. The design studio was a major success which contributed to ongoing local dialogue on the vision for an integrated, post-settlement, Famagusta. The studio offered outlines of different proposals, which the local stakeholders can draw information from as guides in the future development of the city.
2) Spring presentation 2014: A conference in the spring of 2014 that presented the ideas of the design studio and what the next step of those ideas could be.
3) Ongoing: Documentary: A ﬁlm that will document the design studio at work, workshops with stakeholders and specialists, interviews with current and former inhabitants of Famagusta, and inhabitants of eco-villages around the world, while also preparing the ground in both communities to ﬁnd the strength and resolve to crack a decades-long conﬂict using a fresh idea. Our aim is that the documentary can also provide a blueprint for other towns to use in preparing their own communities for a more stable and lasting future.
4) Ongoing: Creating a participatory planning methodology that employs augmented reality platforms to help citizens be part of designing their cities/towns/villages, and securing a test site where some of these ecocity principles and design methodologies can be showcased.
5) Ongoing: Outreach: A local and international informational and educational campaign via individual meetings and a wide variety of media, including the documentary ﬁlm and social and traditional media.
6) Ongoing: From Vision to Reality: Our aim is to showcase for public and private investors the feasibility of a successful reconstruction of Varosha and the wider Famagusta as a state of the art environmental showcase providing economic independence for both communities while acting as a magnet for sound investment and high-quality tourism, and peaceful co-existence.
Q. Will the ecocity be funded by taxpayers’ money? Isn’t that a luxury?
How to ﬁnance an integrated Famagusta Ecocity is one of the questions we shall examine during the design studio. Broadly speaking, we envisage a virtuous circle in which visionary ideas, solid planning and productive cooperation attracts not only private investors but also ofﬁcial sector E.U. funding as well as companies who want to showcase their latest eco-friendly technologies.
Q. Who is on your planning team?
Vasia Markides (Filmmaker/Artist/Activist); Ceren Boğaç (Architect/Academic); Armando Garma-Fernandez (Architect, Animator & Filmmaker); Fiona Mullen (economist specializing in the Cyprus economy including post-settlement); Nektarios Christodoulou (Urban Planner); Emily Markides (Professor of Permaculture/Building Sustainable Communities), Christina Elia (Architect).
Q. How are you funding this?
Primarily through private donations. For the documentary, we raised $17,000 in private donations and $34,000 from our crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign, 10% of which goes to Kickstarter. Documentaries that pay their staff regular salaries typically cost $300,000 – 1 million, so we are starting this on a shoestring and we are still campaigning for more funds. For the architectural design studio, we have raised $20,000 through private donations to cover travel, accommodation and costs on the ground. We have also received a pledge for a small donation from an EU-based NGO (non-governmental organization). This money will be used to cover costs such as equipment, travel, services, etc. All spending will be fully accounted for.
Q: Are you saying Varosha should be returned in advance of a settlement?
The Famagusta Ecocity Project is keen to ensure as wide support as possible support for the project from stakeholders in both communities. For that reason we are not taking a position either way on when Varosha should be returned. We are only preparing for what could happen if it is returned.
Q: Are you related to the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative?
We are grateful to BFI for providing us with information and logistical support in the past, but we are not related. Owing to signiﬁcant overlap in the ultimate objectives and in the stakeholder-centric processes adopted by all organizations, the Famagusta Ecocity Project and the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative are mutually supportive of each other’s efforts.
Q: Are you going to interfere with my property rights?
Property rights will be fully respected, and that no property owner will feel that they might eventually be forced to demolish their property as a result of designs made by someone else. We are only presenting ideas and information; we are not trying to impose a way of life on anyone.
Q: Are you forcing an outsider’s plan on us?
The Famagusta Ecocity Project has made a public commitment from the outset that no proposal will be put forward that does not carry widespread bicommunal support among the immediate stakeholders. Ultimately it is all about involving stakeholders and Cypriots in designing a well-planned integrated Famagusta. In the end, Cypriots will decide how that happens.
Q: Do you have political support for your project?
Both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot municipalities of Famagusta have publicly expressed their support for citizen initiatives regarding the future revitalization of Famagusta. Government ofﬁcials in various departments and at various levels have also privately expressed their support and encouragement to the proposition that a vision for the reconstruction of Famagusta, garnering widespread bicommunal stakeholder support, ought to be in place in advance of a comprehensive settlement, as this would prepare the ground for a successful “Day After” and be a good omen for the implementation of any agreed political solution to the Cyprus problem.
Q: What media coverage have you had to date?
To answer more of your questions and see what we achieved in our initial stages, please go here
Have more questions?
Here is some of the international press coverage that the Famagusta Ecocity Project has received since its inception.
Welcome to Varosha, the Mediterranean's best kept secret. Miles of sand where it's just you and nature. Dozens of grand hotels where you'll have the pick of the rooms.
My Dream of Reviving a Ghost City - BBC Outlook (audio interview)
Vasia Markides grew up with her Greek Cypriot mother's stories of Varosha which was once the booming tourist resort of Famagusta, but it has now been fenced off from the world for nearly 40 years. Vasia has launched a campaign to bring Varosha back to life, and to make the whole area into an eco-city. Ceren Boğaç, a Turkish Cypriot from Famagusta, grew up next to Varosha, and shares Vasia's dream.
The grass-roots project — aims to transform the ghost town into a model eco-city, preserve local character, generate revenue for the debt-ridden country and provide a forward-thinking example of planning in a drought-prone country plagued by overdevelopment.
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.
Waking Famagusta teaser
We are currently seeking funds to complete the post-production of our documentary Waking Famagusta.
To learn more about the film and contribute with a tax-deductible donation, please visit our fiscal sponsor page here.
The Center for Independent Documentary (CID) has worked with hundreds of independent film and video producers making work on a wide range of historical, contemporary and socially significant issues. CID films have appeared at every major film festival receiving awards from Emmys to the Peabody. They are also used by a variety of nonprofit and community organizations, from churches to humanities festivals throughout the world.
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