Location: Paphos, Cyprus
Activity : Public Space
Type: Architectural Competition [4th Prize – Commendation]
Team: Chryso Onisiforou, Charis Petrou, Christiana Karagiorgi and Ifigenia Neofytou
Consultants: Georgios Yiannikos – Civil Engineer
The context of the ‘Chani of Ibrahim competition’ was the re-construction and re-use of the old Khan and was organized by the Paphos Municipality within the framework of the 2017 Paphos European Capital of Culture.
Structures like the Khan are decedents of buildings once called Caravan Serai and were located on the ‘ancient’ silk road all over Asia. They were used as shelters for traders and their animals, travelers and merchants. During centuries of cultural and political changes these buildings were slowly relocated, first at the outlines of the cities and later in their center. Inevitably, Khans located in the core of the city transformed into live and busy public spaces.
Our proposal uses the element of the thread (νήμα) as the basis of the design concept, recognizing its’ semantic value in the development of the ‘ancient’ societies. The ‘threads’ of the ‘silk road’ are used as stitches in an invisible weaving pattern between history and contemporary urban re-use. In this manner, a ‘textile’ is created that introduces guides and shadows while it creates alternate atmospheres, triggering the senses of the user. The textile stands between the austere structure of the warp and the chaos of a bundle of threads. The ‘threads’ take the form of tangled metal wires-poles. These elements create a light garment that connects our proposal with the existing building. Along the garment, climbing plants are used in-order to provide a cooling shelter during the hot summer days and sun penetration during winter.
The entire area of the Khan was treated as an open space with two distinct centers: the main central courtyard in which main public functions are held and the back courtyard which is mainly used for performance and cultural events.
The main entrance, introduces the user into a mesh corridor which channels into the main central space. Moving through the main courtyard, the user passes through the workshops and finally into the back enclosed yard. The mystical atmosphere of the back yard is enhanced by the addition of water running on the walls in memory of the past use of water as an element of quench and revitalization.
The outdoor meetings of the ‘ancient travelers and merchants’ under the shadows of the trees had a vital role in our design proposal. Our main goal was to create an outdoor space comfortable to the user all year long. The metal threads that permeate the site are the base for the climbing plants to grow and create an oasis within the city. Finally, the gesture of using ‘green’ as a tool in our design strategy merely suggests the future creation of a network of green spaces withing the fabric of the old town of Paphos: a city within a city!