Could the design of a storm within the Green Line ever work?
The first prize in the UIA-HYP Cup 2014 International Student Competition in Architectural Design was recently won by Stefanos Theodorou, a Cypriot fifth year student of architecture at Finland’s Aalto University, working with Biel Susanna Viladot from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Knowing that there is a shortage of water on Cyprus and a separation between the island’s two communities, Stefanos believes that they have made a statement through architecture with their project entitled The Unexpected STORM in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Theodorou personally researched the Green Line last summer and the reasoning behind his choice of architecture is reflected in the direction he and his partner’s work eventually took.
Theodorou explained: “I am interested in any architectural approach that creates environments and spaces, which promote people’s well-being. It doesn’t matter whether the approach is designing a new building or restoring an old one. The importance lies in the outcome which should reflect the needs of the current society while also adopting the evolving social activities of the future.”
The concept behind the award winning design contributes to Theodorou’s aspiration to address two local issues – that of the shortage of water and the ongoing conflict between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot politicians. The project is symbolised by a storm that builds up and releases the tension as well as rainwater that is so crucial. The Green Line separates the two communities and in the proposal is used as the reunifying element in both a historic context and the current situation.
“The storm, a water storage and purification factory, sits unexpectedly in the middle of the historic city and centre of Nicosia. We created, ironically another wall, which becomes a monument and part of the existing historic Venetian walls that used to protect and unify Nicosia. It works as a reminder of the past but also as a trigger for a better, sustainable future through collaborative living in a unified nation. It is the new symbol, not only of Nicosia, but of the whole Cyprus. We monumentalise the process and the element of water which is vital for any living form, therefore vital for Cyprus and its people,” revealed Theodorou.
A storm within the green line
He feels that these symbols and the need to monumentalise the area’s existing conditions and potential came together through Theodorou’s research on the Green Line: “When visiting Nicosia and the Green Line, I came to realise how sacred the site is. It is, on the one hand, sad, yet it’s also a magnificent part of our history that is shared by both sides. It is a symbol for all the deaths and conflicts that took place, and yet today, the two communities have managed to survive through extremely harsh situations. Therefore the Green Line should be preserved to its existing state along with our proposal, demonstrating our respect for our history, but also initiating a new start for collaborative living.”
“When Biel and I started the competition, we were torn between two sites that have great significance. One was Catalonia and their desire for separation from Spain and the second was Cyprus (Nicosia) and the desire for unification of the two fragmented communities. We chose Nicosia and Biel was more than willing to learn more about the history of Cyprus. Therefore, his name in the competition entry is placed first, in order to show him my great respects for learning and sharing his concerns for my country’s issues,” explained Theodorou.
The jury met in Beijing’s Tsinghua University on September 20th, when a total of 867 entries were reviewed with 42 receiving awards.