Skip to main content

Gardens of the Future

Award category
Regaining a sense of belonging
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
Gardens of the Future
Full project title
Gardens of the Future wishes to be the Home for Sustainability and Collective Transformation

Gardens of the Future is a grassroots organisation transforming an abandoned area in Cyprus’ politically divided capital Nicosia, into a community garden. The aim is to revive people’s sense of belonging and connection, in the process of bringing a no man’s land back to life. Gardens of the future is the leader of a growing network to develop sustainable change elsewhere in Cyprus, while preserving its unique cultural, social and environmental identities and values.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
It addresses urban-rural linkages
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
Word of mouth (colleagues, friends …)
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

n the prospect of how citizens in action may tackle some of the most pressing issues relating to society and the environment, this is where our story begins. Gardens of the Future located in Nicosia, Cyprus,  has brought people and organisations together in an effort to achieve one shared vision: to positively impact the lives of others by 2030 through co-creation.

During the implementation year, while utilising community-led development, along with the support of governmental institutions and other enterprises, the project intended to transform an abandoned area in the heart of the city (total area of 1000 sq.m. standing still since the 1974 political division) into an ‘alive’ space of human connection and belonging.

Key objectives of the space are: 

•to be transformative and offer pioneered possibilities around the matters of zero waste and circular economy, to become an ambassador of sustainable practices and accommodate  agro-entrepreneurship training;

•to be collective and inclusive by using the actual garden area as a vehicle to blend different local communities together, traditionally kept apart, regardless of age, gender, religion and ethnic backgrounds to empower, exchange, experiment, and achieve well-being;

•to be empowering and educative and generate scalable impact by ‘growing’ satellite gardens in other areas and create a network of places of belonging and sustainability. 


During our operations we demonstrated a strong public and social media engagement, and we’ve been honoured to be featured at a national level as a “role model of the future” on matters of sustainability, zero waste practices, and inclusion.  

Despite the ongoing pandemic, many exciting things are planned for 2022, hosting more open educational activities for the community  and experimenting on new prototype modules.


Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Circular (to Achieve Zero Waste)
Entreprenerial (for Impact)
Empowerment (Education, Mentorship)
Collective (Diversion and Inclusion)
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The key objectives include the generation of impact across:

#Sustainable Development: The space of the Garden is completed to the level of being able to be welcoming for hosting any type of activity towards well-being.

#Circular Economy: A big part of the strategic planning was dedicated to the research & development of Garden Modules to be constructed using a ‘building from waste’ philosophy. 

#Enable Locals Become Agro-entrepreneurs: Continued and sustained impact over time and especially in supporting others in developing green and social entrepreneurship endeavours. 

#Scalable Impact:  The Gardens of the Future modules are designed to scale and replicate. Currently consulting interested parties in responsible food production and zero-waste management.  


Key highlights that have contributed to this impact, include but are not limited to:

●National Finalist and International Winner of the Global Climathon Competition

●Achievement of top 5 ranking in the CASSINI Space Entrepreneurship Initiative hackathon by the European Commission

●Frequent gardening initiatives such as seed weeks, planting weeks, clean-ups, and more, engaging the local community with a hands-on experience with their environment

●The launch of our first satellite garden in the Buffer Zone involving a clean-up event

●The launch of our first harvest boxes, which were distributed to the community and packed with fresh vegetables, plants, dried herbs, and educational materials

●Hosted and helped organise the Urban Entrepreneurship Summer Course organised by the University of Cyprus where students had the opportunity to address urban challenges, understand social entrepreneurship, and develop their business ideas.


Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

Gardens of the Future design approach: The spatial elements of the garden have been developed in collaboration with experts (i.e. designers, local makers and researchers) and the community (end-users, students, other volunteers, etc.). Experimental testing is embraced for integration and showcasing at the gardens’ space (new outdoor floor, water system, smart bench, and more). 

#Human-Centric Approach: A deep understanding of the different needs of multiple stakeholders and complex existing funding procedures is required. Design Thinking, as a process for creative problem solving that follows a human-centric approach was applied as a way to evaluate the current issues and therefore identify the ‘ what’ and ‘how’ towards the solution (s). Gardens of the Future methodology is based on design-thinking.

#Design Experimentation: The spatial elements of the garden have been curated through interdisciplinary collaborations with relevant experts (i.e. designers, local makers and researchers). Experimental testing is embraced for integration and showcasing at the gardens’ space (new outdoor floor, water system, smart bench, and more). 

Key highlights that have contributed to this impact include: 

●Served as an official city stop on the Sustainable Nicosia Walking Tours organised by the Home For Cooperation and the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research 

●Invited in Cyprus Talks Green, an event jointly organised by organisations across Cyprus which promote sustainable practices and is part of #EUGreenWeek 2021 events

● Provided welcoming tours and inspiration to 2000+ visitors since its inception. Friends of the Gardens are interested in employing elements of the Gardens within their communities.


Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The key objectives include the generation of impact across:

#Inclusiveness in the City: A diverse audience visitors, volunteers, collaborators and others seeking to find inspiration and motivation have been engaged actively at the Gardens of the Future. The space is providing the necessary environment to allow everyone to feel at ‘home’. Different social groups include: students, entrepreneurs, professors, government officials, homeless individuals, refugees, journalists, spirituals and activists from diverse nationalities gather for our activations.

 #Inspire National Action: During the community-led development journey, along with the support of governmental institutions and other enterprises Gardens of the Future manages to set-up an ecosystem around Sustainability and Innovation. As a current ambassador of sustainable change we aspire to scaling island-wide. 


Key highlights that have contributed to this impact, including but not limited to:

●With the great support of over 30+ strategic partner organisations and individual team members, over 2,000 people and over 600 volunteers, a collective  knowledge sharing and evolving community has been established at the Gardens of the Future premises.

●Wellbeing days for the community to embrace nature through meditation, specialised products from the Gardens (i.e. tea), a Gardens tour, and farm to table food experiences

●Co-creation events with key collaborators such as with the Ministry of Commerce and Energy.

 ●Hosted the MIVA Festival in the framework of the AMIF Project MIVA - Migrants' Integration through Volunteering Activities with walking tours, movie screenings & music

●Hosted the book presentation and launch event of Thkio Logia on gender equality


Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

The Garden Modules Design and Build Phase served as the mechanism to explore and execute the triangle of aesthetics, sustainability and inclusion. Each Garden Module (the compost box, the vegetable beds, the social area, the seating spaces, etc.) is an opportunity to re-define what doesn’t serve us anymore through design. Each spatial element of the Garden is engineered in a way to be open-source and welcoming to co-creation. They have been  developed in collaboration with relevant industry experts (i.e. designers, local makers and researchers) and constructed with the community (end-users, students, and  volunteers, etc.) We continue to showcase any type of experimental testing in the gardens’ social space (new outdoor floor materials, self-reliant systems and so on). For us the Gardens space is a place of belonging, both local and global, grounded by its sense of place, community and cultural heritage. It is emphasised that the Gardens now have become a ‘factory’ for urban transformation, enhanced by being the leader of a growing network of satellite gardens at other locations. That way we  serve as ambassadors of sustainable solutions that aim to shape the future while preserving our unique cultural, social and environmental identities and values.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

After wrapping up a challenging and exciting implementation year, we are thrilled to share our results and impact of the transformation journey of all the amazing things that have happened in the Gardens of the Future - right in the heart of Old Town Nicosia!  (please have a look at the pictures).


Against all the odds we have undertaken a ‘dead’ space including all its infrastructural, financial and political challenges, and demonstrated through vision and persistence how  such endeavors can provide hope, new meanings and heal the physical and non-physical divide between people. We have taken a ‘no-mans’ land and brought life back by regaining a sense of belonging. 


We are thankful to each and every one who joined our journey, and were empowered to help bring our vision to life. We are excited to share some major milestones that happened during this time:


●Signing of an MoU with Leroy Merlin on a strategic partnership to develop solutions on a common Sustainability Agenda

●Strategic collaborations with  other local industry partners to address the challenge of new materials in the prospect of a zero-waste future

●Presentations at major forums such as the Cyprus CSR conference, the Anna Lindh Foundation Cyprus Network, and more

●Featured in local productions such as Old Town Tales: How Nicosia is Emerging as a Hub for Creation & Collaboration

●Featured in major media outlets including StudentLife, Politis Newspaper and Radio, Check in Cyprus, Alpha News, AvantGarde, Sigma Live

●Met with the Chief Scientist of the Republic of Cyprus to talk about our vision for Gardens of the Future and for Nicosia and how the state may support our endeavors for the common good.


Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

The project nature is based on open source design approach, participatory tactics, and co-creation which enhance the notion on how active citizens and members of civil society joined the the design and build up process of the project  (please refer to the attached report for more elaboration on module design-creation). For this project, collaboration appears to be a treacherous foundation for the urban planning process, yielding a spectrum of results from activism and citizens engagement.

Particularly, the garden design development is defined in a modular manner and it has been prepared for collective action propelled by physical and social space. The design elements are based on a different understanding of community, education, experimentation and making who came to teach, learn, unlearn and relearn. Some of these modules adjust in local particularities, and are built by locally found materials and re-constructed materials from different types of waste. Other modules are designed in open-source logic, taking advantage of digital fabrication technologies, such as 3D-printers, in order to give the message that people from anywhere, can access the information and the knowledge to locally produce the modules.

The benefit of such an approach is that it provides the flexibility to synthesize the key pillars of sustainability, aesthetics and social inclusion  integratively in each and every module that has been conceptualized. Therefore every garden module is driven by curiosity, enables discovery and it addresses a different challenge aimed to be resolved during the incubation and pilot operation around each module.


Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

​​Gardens   of   the   Future   is   an   inspiring community action that drives change. Due to the project’s multi-faceted nature, which combines multiple ecosystems, we aim to tackle a broad range of challenges from the environment to equality, from the economic to   peace.  Referring to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and specifically to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our unique model addresses over 75% of the goals. Local solutions are addressed through KPIs that include:

  • Number of migrants engaged and empowered through activities;
  • Number of enterprises improved their performance capacity in sustainable development;
  • Number of attendees for the Gardens of the Future activations; 
  • Growth of the community  network built and Scalability of the project via satellite Gardens;
  • Number of collaborations and strategic partnerships created per annum.


Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

Gardens of the Future is not just a Garden: We utilise the garden as a mechanism to merge finance and innovation through socially impactful initiatives.  The project has been recognised as one of the top 1,000 most innovative ideas globally by Mission Innovation in 2021.


​​The innovative character of the project is within the mechanism of the engagement strategy between the major stakeholders, where: one part (e.g. Municipality, Semi-government organisation, governmental institution) owns and is responsible for the assets (including the space, infrastructure, support); another part (Organisation, Corporate, Multinational) is invited to be a contributor, where said organisation aims to be close to society communities and wishes to contribute; and, the Mediator (in this instance: Gardens of the Future) which is experienced to lead community management, has the ability to reach out to community groups, has the know-how and research capabilities for campaigns, ideas, etc. In that way the operational model of the Gardens serve as a Win-Win-Win  by enabling the three main stakeholder groups to interact with one another (Government with Private Sector/ Corporate Organisations and Innovation/ Community Organisations)


Gardens of the Future is set up as an entity that differs from the traditional business and maintains for driving change. Research and Development are key to design and waste management for up-cycling indicates how waste is used to create items/applications that are of higher value and performance and desirable for community members. It is the leap forward to a zero waste future which is currently the major method of educating society on self-reliance.


The complexity and multi layered nature of the project is tackling social and environmental issues simultaneously and is currently integrating 13/17 of the Sustainable Development Goals through its Pilot Operation (Garden Modules and Sustainability Activations).



Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

Reflecting back on our journey, there are a lot of learnings to be shared on how to achieve community engagement and attract support  in such projects. Our strategy can be relevant to municipal states and policy makers, people interested to create their own ‘green’ communities, as well as corporates wishing to expand their corporate social responsibility agendas. Our methodology was non-linear, strategic and at times quite intuitive.  The project was implemented on three key phases:

Phase 1: Clean-Up: Focus on preparing the space premises to the transformation

Phase 2: Build-Up: Implementing the De¬sign and Construction stage of the space co-created with the local community.

Phase 3: Scale up: Educate others how to grow their own ‘garden’ space (by garden we can refer to a little prototype box, a balcony, an allocated area within a building premises, a public park, a farm)


Key steps of the methodology includes:

1. Identifying the Urban Challenge interested to focus on  

2. Identify the relevant location and analyse the context in order to understand the content of operation. In our case, with an agreement with the Municipality of Nicosia, we have taken one of the many abandoned spaces in the city’s centre and looked how the neighborhood characteristics could be of any use (cultural diversity, high number of asylum seekers, strong creative and culture community, strong university and innovation presence.) 

3. Identify and team-Up with relevant individuals/ partners who with their specific expertise, network and knowledge can implement the project successfully  

4. Define an agenda of a series of ephemeral/ non/ephemeral activations and break it down to key implementation phases. 

5 May project public and inviting to interested individuals who would like to join the cause.  Reach out to Relevant Sponsors and other Supporters to help you materialize project elements/ per phase.

Is an evaluation report or any relevant documentation available?
If you would like to upload additional documentation, please upload it or write it below

We have uploaded 2 PDFs to the application. 

By ticking this box, you declare that you are not in in one or more of the exclusion situations foreseen under Article 136 of the Financial Regulation.
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that you assume sole liability in the event of a claim relating to the activities carried out in the framework of the contest, that the proposed project has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Prizes 2022 in any other category or strand and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.
By submitting your application, you guarantee that you are the author or have the rights to proceed with the application and to authorise the use of the project, concept, idea, and that you have obtained any necessary consents, licenses or assignments from third parties and included copyright notices when necessary.
By submitting your application, you understand that all the applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be shared for the purposes of the selection processes, and notably published on the secured platform and for the purposes of the promotion of these on the New European Bauhaus website and/or other European Commission communication channels. In this sense, the applications would be widely available. Applicants should ensure that they present their ideas, concepts, projects, in such a way that they could be shared without giving rise to intellectual property related concerns. If your submission is selected as one of the finalists, it will additionally be shared for the purpose of the public vote that will take place. The European Union is granted a licence to use and share your application with the general public and the official external experts for the purposes of the selection process, including the voting. The European Union has the right to use the images and visual materials and the description provided in the application for communication purposes related to the contest and beyond. Rights granted comprise the right to store, reproduce, display, publish and communicate or distribute copies in electronic or digital format, including, but not only, through the internet. Unless you have disclosed your name, the European Commission has no obligation to share your name when using or disseminating your contribution to the public. The European Union cannot be held responsible in case any submitted idea, project, concept is found to infringe third parties rights. The European Union shall be neither responsible for the use that third parties may do of the applications or related content.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for strand B.