From dead zones to living spaces?

The UN Administered Buffer Zone in Cyprus

The UN Administered Buffer Zone in Cyprus

No-man’s lands are commonly associated with destruction, danger, walls and barbed wire. Can they also be sites of reconciliation and peace-building?

As part of the expedition, we will be carrying out a workshop inviting Cypriot teenagers from both communities to present their own vision for the future of the Buffer Zone dividing the island. We’ve partnered with leading non-governmental organisations, including the Cyprus Friendship Program and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research to put together an exciting program of activities focusing on practical engagement with the Buffer Zone, its past, present and future.

Home for Cooperation, a bi-communal space in Nicosia's Buffer Zone

Home for Cooperation, a bi-communal space in Nicosia’s Buffer Zone

This workshop aims to democratize the imagination of the Cypriot Buffer Zone, by inviting groups of students to work together and present a vision of its future. The groups will use documents, photos and oral histories to build a deeper understanding of Nicosia’s past. Surveys of sites, including mobile mapping and direct interaction with residents will identify current challenges and future potential, leading to a design exercise that will suggest new uses and integration into the fabric of the city.

The workshop is part of a broader effort to understand no-man’s lands not as dead zones that are solely controlled by military forces, but as meaningful sites for communities and individuals living around them, and sometimes even inside them. This chimes with a recent initiative to turn Nicosia into a “Free Walled City”, a free zone that will encompass both parts of the old city, as well as the buffer zone that divides it.

Teenagers participating in the workshop will present the outcomes of their work at a special day of talks, films and exhibitions, all at the Home for Cooperation in the Buffer Zone, and we hope to have as many people from both communities join us for what promises to be a really exciting, and engaging day.

More details will follow as the workshop develops, but ideas and inquiries are always welcome.

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