Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo Cyprus that Varosha, a unique modern urban site with world-class beachfront architecture is under threat.
“Docomomo Cyprus condemns the abrupt and unilateral opening of Varosha (also Varosi, Varosia, and Maraş) a modern urban site that has remained fenced off and under the control of the Turkish Army since the violent division of Cyprus in 1974. The bulldozers that have recently surrounded the site threaten to permanently destroy the physical fabric and the valuable memory of this exemplary modern landscape and its world-class beachfront architecture. Filled with significant modernist buildings of various types that are paradigmatic of the mid-1960s-1970s modernism in the Mediterranean, and also marked with many other, earlier architectural expressions of modernity, the urban landscape of Varosha constitutes an important tangible and intangible modern heritage of transnational significance. For all the social and environmental contestations that surrounded the modernization processes of the mid-20th Century, Varosia’s modern buildings embodied broader social aspirations for postcolonial modernity and more hopeful futures, that make this coastal site a beacon that informs future attempts for a resolution to the country’s division.
The greatest threat to Varosha’s modern heritage comes not from its 46-year abandonment, but the recent, unilateral, and injudicious reopening of the area. Orchestrated for the sake of political gain during elections, the recent opening and planned interventions, which have brought reactions in social groups on both sides of Cyprus’ dividing line, threaten the permanent destruction of Varosha’s modern heritage. Even if they are camouflaged by an alleged desire to clear the area from aging and depilated buildings and they purport to advance an economic redevelopment of the beachfront, the interventions that are about to begin are in direct violation of the United Nations Security Council’s decisions, owners, and former inhabitants’ rights, and are also in direct conflict with European and international conventions that consider cultural heritage both a social process and a human right. Furthermore, this unilateral appropriation of Varosha threatens the permanent loss of an important world heritage related to Mediterranean modernism but also threatens to curb current and future bicommunal participatory initiatives that approach cultural heritage as a common ground for the envisioning alternative and more hopeful futures for a unified Cyprus.”
Text: Petros Phokaides, Panayiota Pyla
Please sign the petition to save the Modern Varosha (here)!
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