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Eleftheria Square
Photograph: Zaha Hadid Architects / Laurian Ghinit

Could this be the world’s coolest park?

A dried-up moat in Nicosia, Cyprus, has been transformed into a tranquil concrete haven

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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To some extent, all parks are cool. With tons of open space, loads of greenery and dedicated areas for stuff like skateboarding and football, how could they not be? But some parks are certainly cooler than others – and this newly opened space in Cyprus might be the sleekest, chicest, trendiest park we’ve ever seen. 

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, it’s called Eleftheria Square and is right in the centre of Cypriot capital Nicosia. Fashioned out of the dried-up moat that lies next to the city’s sixteenth-century Venetian walls, ZHA has installed promenades, plazas, water features, cafés and shitloads of trees. Just lots of, y’know, classic park stuff.

Eleftheria Square
Image: Zaha Hadid Architects / K-Arkatites

So, why exactly is the new Eleftheria Square cool? Well, loads of reasons. The coolest bits are probably the multi-level spaces which, as these photos show, are incredibly smooth and stylish. True, those curves are perfect for skateboarding, but one other objectively great thing is that they make the park very accessible for disabled people.

All of Eleftheria is open to the public, and parts of it will host festivals and other big events. Excitingly, it’s also been pitched by ZHA as potentially forming part of a new ‘green belt’ around Nicosia. In other words, the city could soon be getting loads of swish new ZHA-designed open spaces. Dreamy, eh? 

Eleftheria Square
Image: Zaha Hadid Architects / Laurian Ghinit

Another aspect to the park that’s certainly pretty interesting is that ZHA sees it acting as a unifying feature for a divided city. Nicosia has been split by the Green Line – a demilitarised zone that separates Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus from the southern Republic of Cyprus – since 1974. Because the Venetian walls skirt the Green Line, there’s a distant hope that in future the park could extend and reconnect communities on either side of the buffer zone.

Whether you see that long-term plan as impressively ambitious or naïve and fanciful is up to you – after all, ZHA’s specialism is architecture, not peacekeeping. But, to some extent, who cares? As it is, the new park is a fabulous work of design, and a brilliant example of how cities can revitalise public spaces in astonishing new ways. 

Did you see Zaha Hadid’s equally impressive plans for a big ol’ glow-up of Vilnius Station?

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