Want to be polite and punctual? Arrive 20 minutes late! The
clocks seem to tick at a different pace in Nicosia, the last
divided capital in Europe. In September 2016, this fascinating city
bursting with modern history was the venue for the annual
international IMIAD workshop, which this year took the title
“Inhabiting Nicosia: Interior Strategies for the Public
Realm”. The workshop was hosted by the Istanbul Technical
University, and organizer Professor Bahadir Numan could not turn
down the chance to invite IMIAD students and professors from
partner universities in India, Belgium, the USA, Switzerland and,
of course, Stuttgart to his home country of Cyprus.
In 1974, tension and violence between the two main ethnic groups led to the division of the island into two parts, with the Greeks to the south and the Turks to the north of a UN-administered buffer zone known as the “Green Line”. Monitored by peacekeeping troops, the Green Line runs straight through the island’s shared capital, Nicosia. The streets that criss-cross it start and finish with dead-ends and never leave the military buffer zone, thus creating a ghost town of crumbling buildings that have not been inhabited for over 40 years. Only the military is allowed in.
Working in eight groups, participating students spent ten days developing a variety of highly differentiated concepts presenting a vision of how the buffer zone could be reintegrated into the city – thus reuniting citizens from both sides – further to the long hoped-for reunification of Cyprus. A concept entitled “Urban Corridors as Interiors” transformed the deserted buffer zone into a new urban park which incorporates and revitalizes the ruined buildings. Taking “Memorials, Commemoration, Interiors” as their topic, another group used surveys of citizens on both sides of the buffer zone to examine how the themes of commemoration and reconciliation could be united in a memorial. Other ideas included a multimedia exhibition on “The Future of Nicosia” and a variety of interventions aimed at reanimating deserted districts close to the buffer zone.
Students found it both fascinating and challenging to organize their diverse international teams and simultaneously tackle the sensitive issue of the buffer zone. They also experienced for themselves what it is like to live and work in a divided city. They crossed the border between the northern and southern parts of Nicosia on numerous occasions each day, and had to show their passports every single time. The Turkish students were not even allowed to enter the Greek-controlled southern section of the city. The workspaces allocated to the workshop were in Bandabulia, an old bazaar in northern Nicosia located right at the heart of the historic city centre. The sights, sounds and smells of the butcher’s shops, greengrocers and scurrying chickens made for an enchanting atmosphere that will live long in the memory.
Frank Brauckhoff, 3. Semester IMIAD, Wintersemester
Prof. Wolfgang Grillitsch
Sketch and poster "The Greenline"
Sketch: Patricia Klier, 3. Semester IMIAD Winter semester 2016/17
Project about revitalisation of the Arabahmet quarter
Project "Urban Corridors as Interiors"