Uneasy but Shared Heritage
Modern Architecture on A Divided Island
When Cyprus became an independent Republic in 1960, the young state advanced tourism development toward nation-building and modernisation. The boom in hotel construction that covered the island with iconic examples of Mediterranean Modernism unfolded against a background of a bicommunal conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The hotels may have projected a hopeful and peaceful future, but they were predominantly Greek Cypriot endeavours. The invasion by Turkey in 1974 and subsequent division of Cyprus along ethnic lines created different realities for hotels on both sides of the divide.
Some were militarized or abandoned; others were radically altered to engage in a new race for tourism development, often with new owners and users. Recent events threatening the imminent destruction of many such hotels have exposed the complex relationships between tourism, conflict, and heritage, and triggered the proposed research.
This project interrogates the contests that surround the post-1974 use, appropriation, and misappropriation of ten hotels that are paradigmatic of modern heritage of 1960–74, to expose the competing narratives and interpretations that have remained hidden or lost behind these buildings’ present physical condition. Conducted as an encounter of modern architectural history with critical heritage studies, this project draws on archival research, fieldwork, and oral histories to provide a critical history of the different interpretive agendas that surround these hotels, ultimately asking: How can the insights of architectural history shed light on the potentiality of these buildings to serve as shared heritage between the two communities of the island?
The research project utilises technological tools to develop the U-SHer app as an alternative "guide" of modern architectural history in Cyprus that engages the public in an interactive dialogue with architectural history and research, by inviting them to ‘share’ stories entangled with an understanding of the intangible value of built heritage.
This project interrogates the role of architectural history in contributing to the intangible value of modern buildings in Cyprus as modern heritage that can be shared.
It focuses on exploring the post-1974 use, appropriation, and misappropriation of ten hotels that are paradigmatic of modern heritage (early 20th century–1974), to expose the competing narratives and interpretations that have remained hidden or lost behind these buildings’ present physical condition.
USHer - the app
The research project adopts technological tools to develop the USHer app as an alternative architectural "guide" to modernity in Cyprus. The app engages with the public in an interactive dialogue, by inviting them to "share" stories, as an imperative element in understanding the intangible value of built heritage.
The app includes more than hotels, and it aims to build a digital archive of modern architecture in Cyprus that "listens."