Design / Architecture / Urbanism / Research by Despo Thoma.
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resilience in a ghost town / NTUA



resilience in a ghost town

Research Thesis
with Zach Hatziloucas
National Technical University of Athens
Athens, December 2014

The "resilience" of Famagusta: the potential re-opening of the ghost-town of Varosha, February 2016


The Resilience of Famagusta, January 2017


Cities, some of humankind’s most durable artifacts, seem to be subject to anthropogenic disasters more frequently during the last century. Such disasters have sparked a series of socioeconomic challenges, whose solution is investigated through the fields of urban and architectural design. By evaluating the ability of a city to recover, one can assess its resilience –a term still not explicitly defined. Through the investigation of the case of Famagusta in the occupied area of Cyprus, we attempt to give our own definition of resilience.

Famagusta has evolved through history sometimes as a thriving metropolis and sometimes as a victim of a total disaster. The city currently suffers from the illegal occupation and the fencing-off of the 20% of its territory –Varosha–, as a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974. How can this city fully recover while dilapidated buildings still stand as a constant reminder of the war? Taking into consideration the official position of the Turkish-Cypriot mayor of Famagusta for the re-opening of Varosha, we investigate the meaning of a possible re-opening of the ghost town, the challenges that the city will face and the effects of such move on the resilience of the city and its total recovery.