In aspiring to create an urban plaza for the city of Nicosia, we found ourselves confronted with deep historical traditions and contradictions: the presence of massive Venetian fortifications, constructed to offer protection from invaders and effectively containing and separating ancient and modern cities; the ‘green line’ which divides two communities in this, the last divided capital of Europe.
Our concept constitutes an ‘architectural intervention’ – the creation of an urban plaza which forms the spearhead of a much broader and ambitious urban planning gesture. One that aspires to organize and synthesize the entire urban wall, surrounding moat and modern city fringes beyond within a unified whole.
In achieving this grand vision, the moat becomes a green belt – a ‘necklace’ which surrounds the Venetian fortifications, transformed into Nicosia’s main park – a focal point for rest and recreation, a venue for art exhibitions and installations containing both sculpture gardens and sports facilities.
Elevated and widened to increase circulation, the moat is accessed by bridging streets – new gateways to the inner city, free of traffic thanks to the use of subterranean car parks. The Venetian wall, restored to its former glory, flanked by palm-lined walkways and lit continuously by night, declares its presence and relevance to this new, unified Nicosia.