Netherlands-based architecture firm MVRDV have unveiled their vision for a self-sufficient valley in Armenia.
MVRDV was commissioned by the Armenian non-profit organisation DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness to develop a design that will make the 34,000-hectare area more sustainable and ecologically diverse.
In the Gagarin Valley, 10,000 plant species will soon flourish on as many plots. With the help of innovative facilities and future-proof housing that will add 12,000 new housing units, the valley will become an ideal base for sustainable agriculture and ecotourism and welcome a new generation of residents.
Armenia's Gagarin Valley is located near Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus and only 50 kilometres from the capital Yerevan. Surrounded by mountains, roughly 11,000 inhabitants live in several villages spread throughout the valley.
MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas: "The area is named after Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human to orbit the earth; he saw the planet’s vulnerability, a house in need of extra care, as many other astronauts have since stressed. I share that concern: stimulating biodiversity, improving water management and the ecosystem is of great importance for the future of the Gagarin Valley and the world.”
The landscape consists of a patchwork of different pieces of land, of which the local community owns about one third. Commissioned by the DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness, MVRDV designed a vision for the area in which the potential of the valley is optimised and various facilities are added. The ambition, which will be realised in consultation with local parties, is to turn the valley into a versatile and future-proof landscape that is suitable for sustainable agriculture on various scales.
Maas adds: “The valley can be seen as a series of test fields for the 10,000 species that will soon flourish there, an enrichment that will give the area the appearance of a garden of Eden.”
It is hoped Gagarin Valley must become a more attractive place to live in, as well as an area for ecotourism and recreation, serving as a destination for people to walk, hike, cycle, and ride horses. By 2026, the country aims to attract some 2.5 million tourists a year, to which the transformed Gagarin Valley will make a significant contribution.