Building a Bi-Communal Bridge: Nicosia, Cyprus

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Building a Bi-Communal Bridge: Nicosia, Cyprus

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The passage of centuries of foreign influence through the Mediterranean Sea developed a unique urban fabric on the island of Cyprus, which acts as a global link from Christianity to Islam, and Eastern to Western civilization. In response to an attempted coup backed by a Greek military junta in 1974, Turkish troops invaded Cyprus resulting in a United Nationscontrolled Buffer Zone that separates Turkish-speaking, military-occupied northern Cyprus and the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus. The Buffer Zone slices through the island’s capital city of Nicosia and compromises the condition of hundreds of buildings dating from the fourteenth century. Municipal leaders came together to salvage the devastated Cypriot identity and formed the Nicosia Master Plan (NMP), a “bi-communal” effort to preserve and restore buildings as a heritage preservation method of conflict resolution. During July and August, I met with Nicosia Master Plan team members, architects, planners, and Nicosia residents on both sides of the Buffer Zone. The numerous social spheres I became involved with allowed me to understand the conflict in Cyprus from many different perspectives. My field study focused on two neighborhoods as case studies for community development in places of ethnic division. The rehabilitation efforts in each neighborhood began immediately after the NMP developed because of their direct adjacency to the Buffer Zone and former vibrancy. The NMP has revived centuries of Cypriot history and has paved the way for “reconciliation”. Division in the urban landscape has disrupted communities internationally, and the preservation of their built environments are required to salvage their identity. The Nicosia Master Plan is an important precedent study as an urban planning approach to drawing people together through heritage preservation.


Additional contributor: Rachel Iannacone (faculty mentor).

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Hanson, Woody. (2010). Building a Bi-Communal Bridge: Nicosia, Cyprus. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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