Goris, Armenia

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the conflict with Azerbaijan, Armenia has passed through a very challenging period of blockade, economic collapse, energy crisis, political instability and human suffering, which was also deepened by consequences of devastating earthquake in 1988. However, during last decade the country made a steady progress in its economic development and political stability.
Despite impressive economic growth, Armenia still has major problems in human development area. Poverty level, social development and housing for refugees and most vulnerable people, are important issues for the development agenda of the country.
Following the reinforcement of bilateral relationships between Armenia and Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) implements collaboration programs such as the pilot project for social housing in supportive environments for vulnerable populations, supporting the government efforts in reducing poverty and promoting economic and social development in the region.

Edition Particularities

WISH welcomed the extension of partnership with SDC offices in South Caucasus after successful collaboration during 2006 edition in Tbilisi. Participating in the program for social housing in supportive environment under implementation in Goris represented an special challenge for WISH by being involved in a real project address to construction.
The workshop format was adapted to fit construction schedules and involvement of different stakeholders. The main particularities are: five projects in one assigned site, two co-authors for each project, formation of a bi-national jury for selecting the project to be implemented, extension of WISH activities into follow-up of the selected project.


Project A
for implementation
January 2009

Urban integration
A new street following axes and approximate modulation of central Goris is proposed to give structure and accessibility to the whole site. A river park becomes defined in between the existing embankment and the new street. The project develops the resulting southeastern compartment taking advantage of the existing terracing of the domits settlement, completing and densifying the area partially developed by the commercial strip

Public spaces
The position of the buildings within the terracing results in a clear spatial definition of public spaces - the streets enclosed by the retaining walls and the main facades - and of the private spaces - the gardens delimited by back facades occupying the rest of the terracing. A secondary system of pedestrian paths shortcut the dead-end streets, interrupt the long alignment of buildings and connect the neighborhood to a central square and playground.

The reutilization of existing terracing present on the site results in economization of earthworks. A three storey high building minimizes cost of foundations per unit. Building construction is based on reinforced concrete framed structure with stone walls infill. Roofing is proposed in simple wooden structure with metal sheets cover. In the buildings devoted to rental or for sale apartments all the typologies have a proper external space.
The ground level is shared by one single bedroom apartment and one double bedroom apartment each one with direct access to private gardens. On the upper levels two duplexes find place each one with an own loggia as the main external space.
In Social Housing in Supportive Environment buildings follow the same construction and structural modulation as the rest of the buildings. Different communal spaces are provided instead of private loggias.

Project implementation
The first phase includes the construction of the three SHSE buildings on the free part of the site situated closer to domits area. For the rest of the complex since streets and buildings fit to the existing organizational pattern of the domits, these can be demolished and the replaced with new buildings step by step according to social needs until the total relocation of the families. The northeastern block could be developed with a similar scheme consisting of rational land terracing and dead end passages, while for the two blocks facing the river a continuous facade scheme such as Kartasyan and Giannesini's project is recommended.

project area 13’500 m²
buildings foot-print 2'600 m²
type 1 (1 bedroom) 47 m² 30 units
type 2 (2 bedroom) 57 m² ncl. loggia 45 units
type 2 (2 bedroom) 58 m² 15 units
type SHSE 20 m² 30 units
type foster family 46 m² 3 units
total number of units 123
inhabitants 370
density 274 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 19%

Hovhann Minasyan, YSUAC
Sebastian Carella, AAM

Final project
for implementation
July 2009

Urban integration
A new block is proposed following the axes and the approximate modulation of central Goris urban grid, completing and densifying the area partially developed by a commercial strip under development.
The buildings are placed on the site in couples, oriented towards South also overlooking the two existing SDC prototype houses and central Goris district. A portion of land for allotments is reserved on the upper part of the site as an area of communal interest functioning as a conclusion of the complex.
The new proposed street that defines the block towards the West serves as main access for the hole complex as well as defining a limit to the river.

Public spaces
The original slope of the land is modelled with platforms, partially re-using the terracing present on the domits settlement. Two buildings are placed in the central part of each platform clearly defining the public and open air spaces - the streets and parking areas enclosed by the embankments and the northern façades and the gardens delimited by southern façades occupying the rest of the terracing.
A system of pedestrian ramps going across the platforms short-cuts the dead-end streets, interrupts the alignment of buildings and connects the neighbourhood both to commercial spaces, SDC 1 houses and cultural spaces on the lower part of the site and the allotments ground on the top. The importance of this internal public space is underlined by a grid of trees that unifies all the complex.

Project implementation
The first phase considers the construction of two buildings in the upper part of the complex, avoiding the initial demolition of domits and creating shelter availability for the future replacement of inhabitants of the area. This first step will count with ten single room apartments for vulnerable people, one apartment for a foster family and six double bedroom apartments for rent.
The second phase contemplate the completion of the project by gradually substituting each row of domits with new buildings. During the final step the pedestrian short-cut will be concluded and Goris 1 houses will result attached to the new complex.

The typology attempts to integrated the vulnerable people hosted in the social protected environment apartments into the communal life of the neighbourhood mainly by proposing a well oriented loggia as main circulation spaces large enough also to become suitable for communal activities.
In each building the ground level is shared by two double bedroom apartment for rent or sale with independent access and four apartments for vulnerable people with reduced mobility placed close to the main entrance. The second floor - where the main loggia is proposed - is devoted to six single room apartments for vulnerable people and one double bedroom apartment for the foster family. On the upper level there are four double bedroom passing through apartments for rent or sale.
According to the needs of the development during the second phase of implementation a different mix of typologies could be easily introduced without severe modification of the project due to the regular disposition of the components of the building.

The eight buildings are based on a single typology that in half of the cases is mirrored to fit the general plan. The choose of a three storey elevation minimizes cost of foundations per unit while allowing proper sun exposure according to the distance in between the buildings.
Building construction is based on reinforced concrete framed structure with stone walls infill and internal isolation wall. Roofing is proposed in simple wooden structure with metal sheets cover.
The re-utilization of existing terracing present on the site results in economization of earthworks. The precarious existing retaining walls are replaced by earth embankments made of with the new excavation material.

project area 13’500 m²
buildings foot-print 2'576 m²
type A (2 bedroom) 65 m² 30 units
type B (1 bedroom) 25 m² 45 units
type C (single room) 16 m² 15 units
total number of units 136
inhabitants 300
density 220 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 19%

Project B

Urban integration
The project looks for a continuity with the settlements principles of central Goris. Emulating this situation, four more blocks result from the creation of a new street. The new buildings are aligned towards the street recreating a continuous facade, the internal facades and private gardens limited by terraces overlooking the river park. Also the water course becomes again an exception to the grid, now being found crossing at the interior of the blocks and not on their limits. Towards the upper part of the side, a new accessible area is created for development, partially already configured by the existing commercial zoning.

Public spaces
As in central Goris, the street is the main public space. The new street is fully integrated to the existing grid of roads. Some additional shortcuts ensure accessibility to the river park and at the same time allow connections through the pedestrian bridges crossing the river. Social Housing in Supportive Environment (SHSE) units as well as the small apartments for rent are grouped on the extremities of the rows of buildings. With a double line of construction, they incorporate an internal courtyard of communal assigned use. Instead, duplex three bedroom units count with a terraced private garden.

The earth is terraced following the slope to obtain proper basements for the buildings and gardens, solving flood risks and defining the different external spaces. All the typologies of the complex are based on a regular square module of stone bearing walls resulting in higher simplicity of construction. Different positions of balconies and verandas results from variation for the different typologies. Buildings are covered by single-sloped roofs to maximize sun exposure on winter periods.

Project implementation
The specific position of three Social Housing in Supportive Environment (SHSE) buildings together with the new proposed street will give the structure to the whole site and could be partially build without the total demolition of the existing domits. The completion of the complex could be divided in further phases according to available investments. The proposal counts on Minasyan and Carella's project as a viable alternative for full development of the area.

project area 13'900m m²
buildings foot-print 2'680 m²
type 2 (2 bedroom) 37 m² 30 units
type 3 (3 bedroom) 74 m² 34 units
type SHSE 16 m² 42 units
type foster family 52 m² 3 units
total number of units 89
inhabitants 385
density 276 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 19.3%

Tatev Kartasyan YSUAC
Sebastiano Giannesini, AAM

Project C

Urban integration
The proposal is based on the development of the inner part of the block limited by the new commercial area, the channel and the river with the re-use of the existing terraces and accesses that will be left behind after the removal of the domits settlement. The orientation of buildings, parallel to the main street, ensures the continuity with the orthogonal grid present on the central part of town as well as optimizing solar exposition.

Public spaces
The complex is served by vehicular dead-end passages proposed on the existing gaps in between the buildings of the commercial area. Designated parking zones are placed at the beginning of the streets stimulating only service and emergency access towards the internal sector.
A continuous green space across the whole complex is created by splitting the position of the buildings from one terraced level to another; although different character of the external areas is achieved by concentrating the units entrances towards one space - communal courtyards - and private gardens / allotments to the opposites.
The three buildings containing the Social Housing in Supportive Environment (SHSE) are placed on the central part, surrounded by green areas of communal use, in an attempt to socially integrate inhabitants to neighborhood life. Accessibility to upper level of SHSE without the use of staircases is made possible by footbridges connecting buildings placed on different terraces.
A continuous grid of pedestrian paths unifies all the complex, connecting different terraces and also giving access to the river park.

Minimum preparation earthwork is necessary with utilization of existing terracing and retaining walls. Construction is based on stone bearing walls seismically protected by reinforced concrete framing. In SHSE buildings span is shortened by a central spine wall while in the duplex apartments buildings perpendicular walls ensure structural efficiency as well as noise barrier in between single units.
Continuous balconies on the upper levels introduce variation on the facades and like in old Goris, create comfortable external spaces. Pitched roofs with simple wood structure covered with undulated metal sheets are proposed according to local available and tested technology. Project implementation First phase contemplates the construction of SHSE, rental and for sale apartments buildings on the free areas available on the north of the site without necessary demolition of domits.
The construction of the total amount of units could be completed in steps considering each existing terracing as a further phase, allowing the partial elimination of domins and contemporary re-allocation of inhabitants. Northwestern part of the site, on the opposite side of the channel is considered as land reserve and could be implemented in the future, for example with Khachatourian and Maican's project.

project area 12'600m m²
buildings foot-print 3'300 m²
type 2 (2 bedroom) 60 m² 25 units
type 3 (3 bedroom) 75 m² 42 units
type SHSE 18 m² 30 units
type foster family 63 m² 3 units
total number of units 100
inhabitants 394
density 313 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 26%

Agnesa Ter-Poghosyan, YSUAC
Owen Watson, AAM

Project D

Urban integration
The project is a proposal for the development of the area to the north of the channel. It interpenetrates the self standing block buildings existing in the context, but organizing the new buildings in clusters, each one positioned on a specific level on the slope. Orientation of buildings follows the commercial strip present on the top of the site. On the lower part the misalignment of the building facades results in an open situation towards the potential river park.

Public spaces
Each group of buildings is connected to secondary streets - one proposed towards northwest and the other existing parallel to the channel - detached from main commercial road and going down to the river park. Parking for each complex is placed closer to these streets while emergency and service vehicular access is possible, each complex being developed on a flat platform.
The particular position of the buildings, faced in mirrored pairs and scattered following the slope results in an articulated internal spine of public spaces. Entrances to buildings happen in the narrow parts, while living areas on the single apartments are positioned on the corners of the buildings ensuring not only solar exposure but views to social life taking place on the wider courtyards on the ground floor.
Social Housing in Supportive Environment (SHSE) units count with a wide corridor in each storey overlooking the public spaces and could function as an intermediate space for social interaction. Semi private gardens are built on terraces at the same level of the buildings, while green surrounding are served by paths and stairs, left natural for communal allotments.
An existing unfinished structure in the middle of the site - a rectangular flat platform - becomes the central piazza properly connected to the four groups of buildings.

Site slope is occupied by four independent platforms. Since they are placed following the level contours and incorporate all necessary spaces of the project - public spaces, buildings basements and private terraced gardens - the green area surrounding the platforms is left in its original relief avoiding extra earthwork.
The block buildings construction and internal organization of spaces is based on a regular 4.5 x 3 meter structural grid. The seismically resistant reinforced concrete structure is completed with infill of stone masonry. Roof is on wood structure covered with metal sheets without eaves overhanging the facade lines. The rational modulation of the buildings could easily be turned into a prefabricated construction.

Project implementation
First phase consists in construction of SHSE building present on each group and located closer to the access streets and parkings. Completion of the rental and for sale buildings could be implemented taking advantage of the structural independence of each group. After relocation of families and demolition of domits, the resulting reserve area could be developed with an autonomous project, such as Ter-Poghosyan and Watson's one.

project area 33'000m m²
buildings foot-print 2’875 m²
type 2 (2 bedroom) 46 m² 48 units
type 3 (3 bedroom) 60 m² 48 units
type SHSE 14 m² 44 units
type foster family 50 m² 4 units
total number of units 144
inhabitants 330
density 100 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 9%

Lousineh Khachatourian-Saradehi, YSUAC
Ilinca Maican, AAM

Project E

Urban integration
The project develops the central part of the site, on both sides of the channel, trying to solve conflicting transition from XIX century regular urban grid to pavilion-like soviet blocks settled on a different topographic condition.
Based on the intention of creating a clearly defined space that can articulates both parts of the city, four bar buildings are placed following the orientation of central Goris streets and buildings, while their scales remind of the multistory buildings of the northern district.

Public spaces
A unique straight pedestrian path gives access to the buildings, connecting the complex on both side of the existing road and channel resulting in minimum area used for circulation. Each couple of facing buildings enclose a regular square-like space devoted as a garden of allotments. The channel with its oblique position becomes a paesagistic element.
Parking lots are proposed along both sides of the channel road while service and emergency circulation around each building is possible through a perimeter passage.

The four buildings have different lengths in order to optimize the use of land within the site limits. Each building is formed by two submodules - three in the case of the longest one - giving the possibility of construction in phases, adapting the buildings to the slope by ranging from three to four story as well as a obtaining a certain level of desirable standardization.
Building structure is based on perimeter stone bearing walls reinforced with hidden concrete framing. Internal span is reduced by structural walls that also separate the different units. A pitched roof with simple wood structure covered with undulated metal sheets are proposed according to local available and tested technology.
Two and three bedrooms apartments have passing through living areas for better sun exposure, while small apartments are placed in the corner of each buildings to provide double orientation through the short facade.

Project implementation
Since the project occupies an empty area, phasing is not conditioned by the liberation of domits land. The modulation scheme allows construction in phases according to different financial scenarios. The important land reserves on the northwestern and southeastern part of the site could be developed by a regular layout of allotments easily adaptable for residential land subdivision.

project area 12'700m m²
buildings foot-print 1’700 m²
type 1 (1 bedroom) 35 m² 22 units
type 2 (2 bedroom) 56 m² 21 units
type 3 (3 bedroom) 66 m² 19 units
type SHSE 26 m² 30 units
type foster family 56 m² 3 units
total number of units 95
inhabitants 284
density 224 inhabitants/ha
land occupation 13%

Lia Khachikian YSUAC
Dafna Servadio, AAM

Guest Critics
Nune Petrosyan
YSUAC professor & independent urban consultant for Goris

Anahit Hovhannisyan
YSUAC vice rector

Simon Tschur
SDC, Bern

Hannes Hermann
SDC consultant

Ernesto Morosin
SDC deputy director for Caucasus

Sergey Hovhannisyan
SDC officer in Armenia

Ara Nazinyan
SDC consultant and director of Social Housing Foundation
of Armenia
Karlen Gevorgyan
Deputy Minister of Urban Development of the Republic
of Armenia

Narek Sargsyan
Chief Architect of the Republic of Armenia

Ara Dorunts
Deputy Governor of the Syunik Region

Nelson Voskanyan
Mayor of Goris

Karo Parsyan
Chief architect of Goris



Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio
Palazzo Canaveé
Mendrisio, Switzerland


Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction
Teryan St., Building 105
Yerevan, Armenia

Program of activities


Presentation of the WISH 2008 in Mendrisio

Workshop in Armenia

Seminary at YSUAC in Yerevan

Guided visits to:
  • project site in Goris
  • Goris city and surroundings
  • SDC social housing complexes in Goris and in Yerevan
  • Yerevan city center
  • Goris Municipality
  • SDC offices in Yerevan

Workshop in Mendrisio

Design Atelier
Collective critics


Intermediate reviews with Armedian and Swiss guest experts


Public presentation of the five projects and intermediate jury with Armenian and Swiss experts in Mendrisio


Public presentation of the five projects and final jury with Armenian and Swiss experts in Yerevan


Public presentation of selected project in Goris


Delivering of final project for implementation

Architecture and Construction
Builder's Union & Union of Architects of Armenia Magazine
Social Housing in Supportive environment
Page 3


Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction

Armenian Swiss cooperation

Asociazione di amicizia italo armena

Presentazione progetto "GORIS-ARMENIA"

Ticino Finanza
Un ponte verso l’Armenia

Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction

Social Habitat in Goris Project www.ysuac.am/data/eng/news/n2009_04_09a.html


Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction
Rector, Hovhannes Tokmajyan


Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Humanitarian Aid South Caucasus Regional Deputy Director
Ernesto Morosin

City of Goris

Goris Municipality
Mayor, Nelson Voskanyan

Syunik Region

Regional Government
Deputy Governor, Ara Dolunts

Republic of Armenia

Ministry of Urban Development
Deputy Minister, Karlen Gevorgyan
www.mud.am (in Armenian)

Special thanks

Shorig e Tiziano Brianza
Annick e Errico Lupi
Don Italo Molinaro
Ernesto Morosin
Ana e Hacik Naroyan
Ludwig Naroyan
Marusca e Luis Rodriguez