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ZHA's Elefteria Square wins Rethinking The Future Awards 2022

Eleftheria Square in Nicosia, Cyprus, is one of three projects by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) named winner of the Rethinking The Future (RTF) Awards 2022
Photograph © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Rethinking The Future Awards is an annual architecture award program which aims to promote outstanding work in the field of Architecture and Design across the world.

Establishing Eleftheria Square as the city’s main gathering space, ZHA’s design creates new connections intended to unite a divided capital. Nicosia’s massive Venetian fortifications separate the old city from its modern districts, while the city’s ‘Green Line’ divides the capital into two disparate communities.

Eleftheria Square by Zaha Hadid Architects
Located near the centre of Nicosia, Eleftheria Square is adjacent to the Venetian Walls and the dry moat that encircles the city. Constructed in the Middle Ages and extensively rebuilt by the Venetians in the 16th century, these substantial defensive walls define the boundary of the oldest part of the capital, dividing the ancient city from the new districts outside the walls | Photograph © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Eleftheria Square is adjacent to the city’s Venetian Walls and the dry moat that encircles Nicosia. Constructed in the Middle Ages and extensively rebuilt by the Venetians in the 16th century, these substantial defensive walls define the boundary of the oldest part of the capital, dividing the ancient city from the new districts outside the walls.

Eleftheria Square by Zaha Hadid Architects
Transforming previously inaccessible areas of the moat with new civic plazas, gardens and palm-lined promenades, the moat can become a ‘green belt’ around the city. ZHA’s design proposes these new public spaces within the moat are extended to follow the ancient city walls and encircle Nicosia, reconnecting communities of this divided capital | Photograph © Laurian Ghinitoiu

ZHA envisioned Eleftheira Square as the initial phase of a larger urban plan that could be a catalyst for the reunification of the capital. The design ensures unobstructed views of the Venetian Walls, establishing these fortifications as an integral part of Nicosia’s identity, while also transforming previously inaccessible areas of the moat with new civic plazas and gardens. ZHA proposes these new public spaces within the moat are extended to follow the ancient city walls and encircle Nicosia, reconnecting communities of this divided capital.

Eleftheria Square by Zaha Hadid Architects
The Eleftheria Square design elevates the topography of the moat to create an upper level bridge that meets the surrounding streetscape, establishing direct connections with the city’s urban fabric and defining a new public square in the heart of the capital. | Photograph © Laurian Ghinitoiu

The upper level bridge meets the surrounding streetscape, connecting with the city’s urban fabric and defining a new public square in the heart of the capital. The bridge and its supporting columns are crafted in concrete, their sculptural forms ensure structural integrity in this seismic region while the base of each column morphs into seating. The renovation of the square involved extensive archaeological excavations together with works to repair protect the historic Venetian Walls. New stairs and elevators directly connect with the bus terminal in Solomos Square.

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