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Eleftheria Square, Nicosia

Eleftheria Square, Nicosia
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects New urban square at the heart of Nicosia aims to reconnect the two halves of the city.

Concept

At a Glance
Architect Zaha Hadid Architects
Project Eleftheria Square
Program Urban Plaza Masterplan
Location NICOSIA, CYPRUS
Client The City of Nicosia, Cyprus
Photo Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

The project, Eleftheria Square is situated in the political context of Nicosia, Europe's last divided capital and in the historical context of the adjacent Venetian Wall which is buffered by a recessed moat that presently consists of a mainly inaccessible garden and landscape areas. This massive Venetian fortification, which was designed to protect the city from invaders, de facto defines the extent of the ancient city and separates it from the modern city outside the walls. The "Green line" separates the capital of two communities and instead of being a place of integration and unification it sadly occupies the place of the last divided capital of Europe.

Eleftheria Square, Nicosia

The significance of the intervention at Eleftheria Square lies in the fact that it can become a catalyst for the urban unification of the whole of Nicosia. An opportunity which, by means of an urban intervention, would offer an architecturally coherent and continuous solution that would reinstate the Venetian Monument as a main part of the identity of Capital City and the Moat as the New Landscape in which a central green ring can take place providing free and unobstructed movement around the whole of the fortified city.

Design

Zaha Hadid Architects took this challenge as an opportunity to design an urban plaza with deep history and full of contradictions. The architect's concept takes the form of an architectural intervention, which is only part of a much larger urban planning gesture that aspires to organize and synthesize the whole of the Venetian wall, the Moat and the Fringes of two parts of the city (inner and outer) into a unified whole. The moat becomes a Green Belt which as a 'necklace' surrounds and unifies the Venetian wall and can become Nicosia's Main Park, enhancing the quality of life by offering a range of recreational facilities such as spaces for rest during day time, walk and exercise during the cooler hours of the morning and evening. It can also be used for Art exhibitions and installations, Sculpture gardens and sports activities, all around the perimeter of the Venetian Walls. In order to these spaces to function properly, designer advocate the insertion of activators, facilities especially designed to promote the use of the Park at the Moat Level. At the same time, the Moat can be topographically inflated upwards making wide and accessible connections to the level of the surrounding streets.

Eleftheria Square, Nicosia

As a consequence, Eleftheria square and the other bridging streets to the outer perimeter of the Venetian Wall become the gates to the inner city, which could have restricted access to cars and more pedestrianized streets. In order to achieve that a car traffic analysis is being proposes to calculate the required capacity for car parking and consolidation it in privately run car park facilities, which can be placed under the streets, such as the one proposed under Omirou Ave, and even partly under the garden surface of the Moat. The placement of car parks under the garden surface would allow the "topographical inflations" to be combined with connections to the street level and maximize the available parking spaces making the construction of these projects feasible. The Venetian wall would be restored and lit continuously to emphasize its presence during the night time. A pedestrian walk lined up with a continuous line of palm trees creates a walking path right next to the wall.

MGS Architecture November - December 2010

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