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