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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
IV 1980 - 1990
Cyprus - Planning Central Nicosia

The year 1984 had an ominous ring about it. George Orwell's apocalyptic book had anticipated a political and social degeneration by this date.  In fact this would only begin to materialize in the following decade, but indications of it were already emerging. Different code words than Orwell' had predicted in his book; “1984” were entering the language, like ‘privatization’', which was acquiring a legitimacy that maybe only his concept of ‘news-speak’ could explain.  The increasing power of the international conglomerates in a globalizing world would also only become pathological in the nineties.but already their front men, operating within the insidious advertising industry, were beginning to penetrate the records of computerized personal data, to target and foister on an increasingly materialistic emerging middle class, the unnecessary and superfluous consumer goods through which they were urged to express their quasy new social status. Orwell's ‘Big Brother’ had turned out to be a different one than had been predicated, but he was nevertheless on his way, in a different garb, and would eventually be watching all of us through his electronic eyes.  

    The computers were coming into the office and the Internet was just around the corner.  Even the word ‘Internet’ and the entire computer vocabulary were right out of Orwell's ‘news- speak’.  Israel in those days was a few years behind the times, and was only suffering from conventional hyperinflation. and was creating a general financial havoc that eventually would develop into an economic depression.  For my office it resulted in a sharp reduction of architectural and planning commissions and a dramatic rise in wage bills.  I had no alternative in 1985 to reduce the size of my office to what could be called accurately, ‘a skeleton staff’.  I was very sorry to part with some of my young architects, but apart from that I was in no way depressed by the situation.    I was always talking about the need for 'time to think', now it appeared I was going to achieve it in the most natural way.  The office had an atmosphere of my earlier days.  I was more than ever on the drawing board probing new ideas and looking for different avenues to explore, in a way which I still believed should enclose the architects' benevolent role in society.

    My intuition told me that a new phase of my career was about to unfold, and sure enough a unique proposal came out of the blue

   . My personal Medici, Teddy Kollek, had been at an International Mayors' Congress.  There, he met a dynamic personality by the name of Mr. Demitriadis. He was the Mayor- of Nicosia.  At that time there was a positive development on the political horizon for the Cypress conflict.  and The United Nations, which had a substantial presence on the Island, considered it was opportune to involve the two opposing Greek and Turkish communities in a co-operative planning project. 

   Nicosia was divided through the centre of the city by a version of the Berlin Wall called the ‘Buffer Zone’. separating the Greek zone from the Turkish one. It was a wide swathe of derelict buildings, policed by United Nations soldiers.  The idea was that a coordinated development plan for the Central Business District of the city on both sides of this line of division might be a suitable gesture, to encourage an initiative towards a solution to the political impass and encourage normalization.

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