Advanced Architectural Research + Design & UNIT9 

Instructors: Karen Fairbanks, Alessandra Swiny, Teresa Tourvas, and Maria Hadjisoteriou
Teaching Assistant: Farah Ahmed
Barnard Faculty members Kadambari Baxi and Joeb Moore 

In the Fall of 2023 students came together at the University of Nicosia for a one-week workshop on a joint studio project titled Unsettled.  The Barnard/Columbia architecture studio worked in parallel with our students and faculty led by Barnard alumna, Professor Alessandra Swiny along with Teresa Tourvas and Maria Hadjistoteriou. 

The workshop addressed the potential for architecture and the built environment to support and strengthen communities of unsettled populations, focusing on the unique conditions of the Refugee housing site Aspres in Nicosia, Cyprus. Postwar, between 1976-1986, Cyprus developed a significant amount of refugee housing to settle those displaced by the war that claimed territory in Northern Cyprus in an attempt to form a Turkish state. These housing projects, currently undergoing social and physical changes, are the site of the workshop in Cyprus. The studio addresses how people living in these communities have invested in them to forge their future, and we will research and design projects to address the gaps in the social infrastructure and civic spaces that support resilient communities. 

Together with the visiting students and teaching faculty, we built on the design research activities  that helped envision new futures for these communities. Students and faculty spent a full week in Cyprus visiting the housing projects of the 70’s, and traveling throughout Cyprus, north and south, to learn about its rich and complex history.  

Around 55 students in total came together to work on mixed group projects under the following thematics: 

edges-borders (invisible/ soft/ urban/ social/cultural/expanding/ inhabited) 

inner economies/ agri-culture/ food securities/earth soil investigation 

accessibility/ mobility/slow fast/layered/segregation / introversion / isolation 

intergenerational connectivity /aging population/interdependencies/identity/ private-public/trauma/ 

expanding programs/ claiming through/program/ claiming through use 

appropriation/ weathering [waste management/ appropriation/ 

Students had to identify the key issues and ways into their thematics and then create a video telling a STORY: framing the issue innervation/incision: locate the place/ the method 

They had to answer who the relevant actors/ spaces were and identify how they could begin to test assumptions?
They had to create a strategy that comments/ changes/ invites/ highlights the identified issues 

Students worked in full day workshops, attended lectures by special guests, visiting various Housing projects around Nicosia and presented their work in a final exhibition and event. The students also had the chance to visit key architectural projects around the Island as well as visit the ancient ruins of Kourion and the Temple of Apollo, and the village of Lefkara. The entire workshop was organized by Karen Fairbanks and Alessandra Swiny, who also received Erasmus funding to participate in workshops in Barnard in June 2023 and to plan and prepare for the collaboration.