EU Cypriot Presidency : Improving architectural quality

The challenges and prospects of architectural policies in Europe were addressed at the European Forum of Architectural Policies (EFAP) which took place between November 22 and 23 in Lefkosia (Nicosia). The conference entitled "Promoting Architectural Quality in public and privately funded projects" was organised by EFAP, under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works of the Ministry of Communications and Works, the Cyprus Architectural Association and the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber.

The conference constituted a forum for constructive discussions between architects and senior officials from EU Member States and was geared towards providing tools for promoting architectural quality and its impact on everyday life. The results are expected to contribute to the improvement of the legislative framework towards better architectural creation, urban design and to provide solutions to social justice, ecological and economic crisis.

Cyprus Communications and Works Minister, Mr Efthemios Florentzou, who welcomed participants on Thursday, November 22, stressed the important role of EFAP acting as a catalyst of the public discourse on architectural policies and quality.

"The rich architectural heritage of Cyprus is reflected in the long history of the island and it is influenced by the interaction from different civilizations of the surrounding continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). The preservation of this heritage forms an integral part for the development of different national policies in a sustainable manner", Minister Flourentzou highlighted.

The Commissioner of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, in her recorded welcome address, acknowledged the importance of architectural quality for Europe.

"EFAP is a valuable partner for the European Union, because architecture affects the quality of life, and reflects a vision of society: it is "the will of an epoch, translated into space", she said, quoting Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

The Forum addressed the challenges of contemporary architecture and its contribution towards the quality of the Built Environment, bringing together a wide range of representatives from Associations, Institutions, Governments and researchers across Europe.

Eminent speakers presented important issues for the commissioning of architecture such as the development of sustainable solutions for public building and infrastructure and the need to increase public awareness. The need for promoting architectural competitions as an incentive to improve and develop effectively the urban planning and design both in Europe and in Cyprus was also emphasized.

Public and private funding of projects were at the core of the debate. In particular, Public Private Partnerships were thoroughly discussed. In light of the crisis, the discussions showed the urgent need for new visions, alternative approaches, and formal collaboration.