The article linked to below contains two videos: The 18-minute talk by Vasia Markides at TedX Limassol, and her 6-minute funding plea for the EcoCity project (both from 2014).
They describe what might be the most dramatic heritage/nature restoration and social/economic revitalization opportunity on the planet: bringing a “ghost city”—forcibly abandoned for over 40 years—back to life as a model for cities worldwide.
Any reopening of the 40-year old militarily occupied ghost town of Varosha, a district of historic Famagusta on the Eastern coast of Cyprus, presents a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and rebuild for a better future. Yet it comes with significant risks. Without careful planning, it could become just another unsustainable development in an already crowded Mediterranean tourism market, while cementing Famagusta as the second divided city in Cyprus.
Rebuilding Varosha in the context of a model ecopolis promotes peaceful coexistence amongst all of Famagusta’s inhabitants while embracing the latest ecocity technologies and turning Famagusta into a center for peace and sustainability within a troubled region. The project ultimately aims to turn all of Famagusta into Europe’s model Ecocity. This is a multi-track approach to environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and peace building. Those involved are local and international architects, permaculture designers, economists, business owners, urban planners, engineers, horticulturists, historians, artists, filmmakers, conflict mediation specialists and much more.
Our aim is to prepare the communities for the implementation of the Famagusta Ecocity into a thriving cultural, economic and environmental hub. This takes much planning a preparation ahead of time before the area opens up again to human habitation, and after 40 years of separation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the road is certainly a bumpy one.
Note from Storm: In an email on April 20, 2016, Vasia gave me this encouraging news:
“The current peace negotiations in Cyprus are making positive progress, and after 42 years of occupation, the city may be finally be opened up to its former inhabitants. This is a unique opportunity to act now, and we are hoping our project can influence the city’s inhabitants to make the right choices in this critical moment of our history.”