Commissioned by the non-profit organisation DAR Foundation, the project by MVRDV — the architecture and urban design practice cofounded by Domus guest editor 2019 Winy Maas — will transform Gagarin Valley (named after the famous cosmonaut), in Armenia, into an area designed for sustainable agriculture and ecotourism – in order to contribute to fulfill the Country’s goal to attract by 2026 2.5 million tourists a year.
Gagarin valley – a patchwork of 10,000 plots of land across a 34,000-hectare area – is situated in Armenia’s mountainous highlands and just 50 km from the capital Yerevan. The valley is populated by around 11,000 inhabitants across several villages, and the ambitious masterplan will add 12,000 new housing units and a spherical building for agricultural education. The project, in fact, aims also to make the valley an attractive destination for future residents.
MVRDV’s proposal starts from preserving and reinforcing the plots and the existing roads in the valley, adding a network of walking and cycling paths to connect all the villages. The plan foresees to plant a different species on each plot, in order to make the landscape visually more attractive and stimulate economic diversity. The water system and management will be improved thanks to the restoration and the enlargement of the route of the Hrazdan river, a new canal system, water reservoirs in the mountains and other water sources to irrigate farmland.