Armenia sets up group to work on Gagarin Project

A task force has been set up at the Government to work on the Gagarin Project, Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan informs.

“The project is complex, ambitious and risky, but it is a great responsibility and honor to implement such a program with the team of DAR Foundation, the Dutch MVRDV and large institutional investors,” the Minister said, adding that the target goal is a turning point.

Commissioned by the Armenian non-profit organization DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness, MVRDV’s vision for the Gagarin Valley will make the 18,000-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 – named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – is located near Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus and only 50 kilometers from the capital Yerevan. Surrounded by mountains, roughly 11,000 inhabitants live in several villages spread throughout the valley. The landscape consists of a patchwork of different pieces of land, of which the local community owns about one third.

The first step towards this self-sustaining valley is to embrace the history of the area: the mosaic of 10,000 existing plots will be preserved and reinforced, and the water system in this dry region will be improved by lining the boundaries between them with canals, public paths, and greenery. This forms the base of the valley masterplan, reducing evaporation while enhancing water buffers and biodiversity. On each plot, different species will be planted. This will not only make the landscape visually more attractive, but will also stimulate economic diversity.

In the valley, existing roads will continue to form the starting point for connecting all the villages. Additional walking and cycling paths are created within existing structures. Water management will be improved tremendously: the restoration and enlargement of the route of the Hrazdan River, in combination with the new canal system, is an important part of the vision, and water reservoirs in the mountains and other water sources can be used to irrigate farmland.

The patchwork of 10,000 different gardens will contain various facilities that will make a stay in the valley even more attractive. The vision proposes a market hall, a commercial centre, a centre for the arts, and a sunken stadium for 4,500 visitors. The heart of the valley will be formed by an educational agricultural centre, around which the highest density can be found, with houses stacked to form vertical villages.

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