Andreas Markides: Chairman, Markides Associates
I came to the UK more than 40 years ago, when I was sixteen. In that time, I have had a happy professional life and I have built a beautiful family with my wife Kay. Our home is in Hampshire and we both love it.
And yet, the place that haunts me the most is a tiny village in Cyprus where I grew up. The village is called Geera and it had less than 1,000 inhabitants who were mostly occupied with cultivating different crops and vegetables on their land. In 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus all of us fled the village in order to save ourselves. In an instant we became refugees – a term that tragically almost defines our world.
It has now been nearly 50 years since I was forced to leave everything in that village and I can still smell the blossom of the trees in the orchards, the shouts of the kids playing football in the narrow streets and the beauty of the multi-coloured wild flowers that sprang from the arid earth after the first rainfall in the Spring.
I tried to reflect these memories in a short poem which I have quoted below.
The uninvited guests came
and we hurriedly gathered some loose artefacts
from another life.
The jasmine at the entrance to our house,
as it blew gently in the evening breeze.
Teucer* disembarking from his ship at Salamis.
our neighbour returning from the fields,
on his tractor.
They were but a bundle of moments.
In no time, we packed them away.
Where did we pack them,
for we had no boxes?
And we carried them with us.
How were we able to carry them,
for we had no strength?
We are still carrying them
silently and permanently
in our heads.
This raises the obvious question: is a place something that we (architects, engineers and planners) create in a physical sense or is it a multitude of moments that have shaped our lives?
* Teucer is a Homeric hero that established the first Greek settlement on Cyprus at a place called Salamis. You can still see (and marvel at) this ancient city which is located on the outskirts of Famagusta.