Street-style Well-Being analysis in Cyprus
In mid-September Clear Village went to Cyprus on invitation from Erhan Öze and Sidestreets to participate in a Summer School organised in collaboration with Siegen University’s Architecture Department.
The Summer School was titled “Urban Inquiry” and facilitated a meeting between the international visitors and the local community through a site that was being analysed by the internationals during the week and utilised by the locals.
In this context, Clear Village focused on the socio-behavioural inquiry and conducted a street-style version of the Well-Being Analysis around the site.
The first impression of Cyprus was that it was weirdly wonderful, immensely multi-layered and controversially complex.
This qualitative inquiry was orchestrated as a series of qualitative interviews carried out with residents of Nicosia. Resident participants were drawn from all of the Walled City, meaning both North and South of the much discussed Green Line partition of Cyprus. This dual perspective helped us to gain insight into both remaining cultural divisions and emerging commonalities between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities in Nicosia. One of the barriers between the two sides of the Green Line is a linguistic one, with the North speaking Turkish and the South Greek. For our inquiry, we offered all interviewees the chance to answer in their mother tongue. Therefore the interviews were conducted in Turkish and in Greek with the help of local interpreters.
Parallel to our qualitative interviews, the Siegen architects were working on the site in the North of the Walled City of Nicosia. They were unwrapping the facets of a multi-layered derelict city space and translating them into architectural concepts.
It is not the first time that this Siegen Faculty has been working with multi-ethnicity. Only last year was this the main topic of Faculty Leader Uli Exner’s research. “The Multi-ethnic City” looked particularly at the consequences of migration on the built environment and sought to not merely analyse, but also to distil opportunities and potential for the urban space.
The first findings of “The Multi-ethnic City” were presented to the public last year, and the research is ongoing.
The “Urban Inquiry” Summer School programme was packed with local engaged local residents sharing their ideas and accomplishments at evening and morning talks.
Very inspiring were the Sidestreets co-founders Anber Onar and Johann Pillai presenting their respective work. Onar is an artist and shared how she brought building material from the urban fringes to the centre of Nicosia intending to create an art installation. Ultimately, her work threw the whole city into an uproar and was eventually taken down by the authorities. Both Onar and Pillai have an eye for rare opportunities and saw this mutual provocation as the perfect starting point for Sidestreets. This was 2007 and Sidestreets is still today a Nicosian independent community and creativity space, devoted to both educational and cultural initiatives. Only four years down the line, it has become an institution in its own right in the Cypriot cultural landscape.
During a Sidestreets workshop on digital narratives, Pillai created this story of Sidestreets and surroundings:
Also have a look at Anber Onar’s beautifully personal digital narrative Decoding Grandfather.
After all of these insights from a week amongst Nicosians, the place seems wonderfully multilayered, weirdly controversial, and immensely complex –a place we shall hopefully return to over and over again.
Check back soon for the publication of the RECODE Nicosia or sign up to receive an email notification upon publishing.