Can smart city solutions promote peace (and growth) in a Cypriot ghost town?

For the past 43 years since the Turkish invasion, Cyprus’ ghost town of Famagusta on the island’s eastern coast has been sitting untouched and uninhabited. In the 1960s and 1970s, these sandy shores were booming with tourism thanks to the growing development of high-rise hotels along the water. Since the Turkish occupation, however, the Greek-Cypriot coastal area of Varosha, a district of historic Famagusta, has been fenced off and fallen into disrepair. Can this abandoned area once again become a cosmopolitan holiday spot? According to Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos, “The return of the town of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants should have been a priority to which Cyprus should have insisted more.” Now more than 60 experts in fields from civil engineering to conflict resolution have come together to do just that, starting the “Famagusta Eco-City Project.” Here’s how the introduction of high-tech systems will breathe new life into this deserted town preparing it for a sustainable (and once again liveable) future.- Philippe Léonard 


New life for dead zones

In an effort to reconstruct the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, international companies are coming together to introduce high-tech systems that will offer the solutions needed to transform Famagusta into a smart city. Cyprus Chamber of Commerce’s General Secretary, Marios Tsakis, says they’re looking to other cities in Europe like Barcelona as an example of what they can achieve in Cyprus, highlighting the importance of renewable energy resources, a developed infrastructure system, and the reduction of pollution. The issue here, however, is how to bring together a divided and abandoned the town and make it not only more environmentally sustainable but also prime for human habitation.

According to the group behind the Famagusta Eco-City Project, “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.” 

With this project, the group aims to make Famagusta—and Varosha in particular—Europe’s model ecocity, where everyone from local and international architects to economists and engineers is involved in the planning process, bringing a new vision of Varosha to fruition despite the many roadblocks in the way. With the Design Studio, ideas from cultivating community spirit through urban rooftop agriculture to creating a public transport system with tram lines are just the start to envisioning a modern city that will once again welcome citizens with solutions that offer a smarter (and brighter) future ahead.