Work details
Application Number 0000801663
Author Papavassiliou, Stavros , United Kingdom
Coauthors Anil, Merve , Turkey
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Work title: Unbuffering the UN buffer (0000801663)

Cyprus is an island of islands. Whilst a clear coastline demarcates the island’s geological territory, in psychogeographical terms it is a collection of heterotopic spaces. North and South Cyprus both exist as separate spaces, unable to shake off their imposed otherness. This was not always the case, as historically Cyprus has been a mixed patchwork of ethnic groups and their spaces. After the placement of sovereign British bases, in 1964 a third heterotopic space was created after violence broke out. Arbitrarily drawn on a map by a UN officer with a green marker, the green line is a thick border containing UN troops that runs through Nicosia separating the “Greek” and “Turkish” quarters of the city. This line was further shifted following a coup and invasion in 1974. This and the subsequent criminal exchange of populations from both sides have given the final form to the borders that exist until today. We see the fact that the city was actually divided through its core the prime reason for the fostering of dialogue that sets it apart from the oblivious economic expansion that the other cities in Cyprus experience. This is only experienced at the places where the buffer zone is at its thinnest, such as the rich Ledras Street where the buffer zone is pierced. The buffer zone acts as a cancerous gash in the city, denying any possibility of friction or dialogue, not remaining within its boundaries and oozing into surrounding areas and stripping them of activity. In essence we wish to expedite and intensify the already existing process in the heart of Nicosia by doing away with the buffer and instead creating a thick “third space” that acts as a catalyst for action. A meandering inhabited wall runs along the buffer zone, regulating the space that has been dead for decades. In urban spaces it follows the fast paced rhythm of the city and in rural settings it acts as a linear spine, a sliver of urban activity. Essentially a series of connected shear walls the wall acts as a structure for future appropriation and change. The divide is made explicit, smacking the South and North space onto each other, sometimes setting them apart, sometimes exposing them to each other through its many openings. This in essence is going against the deterministic imposition of a complete solution package from without, and supporting the gradual evolution of a makeup from within, through all its actors, Cypriot and immigrant.