John Palmesino

Cyprus and the World Without Borders
Polity, Space, Neutrality, Matter, Transformation

Cyprus is a knot on a vast net of relations, logistic infrastructures, procedures, protocols, supply chains, field operations that the UN Peace Operations is extending throughout the world to oversee its peacekeeping missions. This vast network is not an abstract phenomena:

it operates on the ground and reshapes the terrain by means of new infrastructures, border checkpoints, camps, buffer zones, airports, ports, roads, hospitals, offices, compounds, etc.

The United Nations Organization was founded in order “to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Meeting this challenge is the most important function of the Organization. In the 60 years since its foundation, the world has seen an unprecedented transformation, with the rise of population and urbanisation. Today most of the conflicts occur within largely urbanized areas and regions, and the tumultuous processes of spatial transformation, linked with migration and economic change, are densely intertwined with the outburst of armed conflicts.

The UN peace operations entail three sets of activities: conflict prevention and peace-making, peace keeping and peace-building. These activities have become in the last years ever more dynamic and multidimensional, and incorporate a complex model of many elements, military and civil, in the (re-)construction of an environment apt to sustain long-term peace. The project looks at these operations by analyzing the spatial configuration of their deployment, the architectures that are built, reconstructed, re-adapted and modified, the reshaping of urban morphology and the architecture of public spaces in the the wake of the post-conflict activities.

Since the end of the Cold War, United Nations peacekeeping has often combined with peace-building operations in complex peace operations deployed into settings of intra-national conflict. Those conflict settings are often very complex urban environments undergoing rapid developments. In combination with an increasing number of military, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other external actors, the UN peace missions operate within an urbanized terrain and reshape it my means of new infrastructures, transport systems, energy supplies, hospitals, shelters, housing, schools, administrative buildings, logistic centers, maintenance compounds and many other spatial interventions such as the establishment of check-points, buffer zones, barriers, enclosures for de-mining, camps, that affect the public spaces of the post-conflict areas and cities. (JP)

John Palmesino is an architect and urbanist. His researches and projects deal with the material transformation patterns of the contemporary territories. He is co-founder of PALMESINO RÖNNSKOG Territorial Agency, a practice involved in the management of international innovative transformations of the contemporary inhabited landscape and its architecture. Territorial Agency has developed the Markermeer Plan, an integrated vision for the future of the Markermeer, in the Netherlands. After the 'Unfinishable Markermeer' plan developed in 2005, the Markermeer Plan addresses a plurality of environmental, architectural, planning, and policy issues in a collaborative environment with a large team of experts from different fields. He lead the researches of ETH Studio Basel–Contemporary City Institute and is a founding member of multiplicity, a research network dealing with contemporary architecture, urbanism, arts and general culture. He is currently researching on the implications of neutrality in the relation between polities and territorial and architectural transformations.

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