Reconstructing Territorial Identities

The case of the refugee settlements in Nicosia, Cyprus

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One of the main results of Cyprus’s contemporary conflict is the Cypriot refugee identity creation. The thesis focuses on the Cypriot refugee settlements created from 1976 to 1991, unraveling the formation of the Greek Cypriot refugee community through space. The thesis project questions how community-led spatial planning allows the Cypriot refugee settlements to be transformed into livable environments while preserving the memories of their initial inhabitants. Additionally, the project expands on how the planning process builds a community in a conflict environment and how the right to remembrance is spatialized conceptually while considering the spatial factors which influence the right to remembrance seen in theoretical notions.
Through the analysis of the spatial footprint of the Cypriot refugees, the refugee settlements, aspects of their liveability state, and remembrance of their past are depicted. The refugee community’s and refugee settlement’s current image are illustrated through quantitative and qualitative analysis. These areas’ social consistency, and spatial characteristics, are combined with the actors and stakeholders involved, contributing to constructing and reconstructing the refugee identity. These elements have been used to form the spatial patterns that describe urgencies and critical features of the refugee community building. Moreover, the degree of place attachment of the refugee settlement residents and the factors responsible for their decay and embody the potential to contribute to community building are identified and used for the pattern language.
The spatial patterns formed through the analysis of Nicosia refugee settlements and global reference patterns dedicated to community express the socio-spatial characteristics of the social group, the refugees, their living conditions, and how the life histories of the first generations have or can be imprinted through space. The patterns created represent starting points for synergies and cooperation among actors towards a socially conscious community’s future at the refugee settlements. Spatial patterns related to the remembrance of the refugee community, combined with liveability aspects, aim to summarize the key elements that enable a community-led strategy, resulting in the landscape memorialization of the refugee settlements.
The complexity of the Cypriot refugee case, primarily because of their internal displacement, the unclear future of the refugee properties, and the de facto division of the island since 1974, make the Cypriot refugees a unique, extremely complex, particularly interesting case.