MVRDV has been commissioned by the Armenian non-profit organization DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness to develop a masterplan that will transform Gagarin Valley's 34,000-hectare area into a more sustainable and ecologically diverse land. With the help of over 10,000 plant species, innovative facilities, and additional 12,000 housing units, the valley is set to become an ideal community for sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.
Named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the valley is located near Lake Sevan in close proximity to the capital. Around 11,000 inhabitants are spread across the valley, living on a unique topography that consists of different pieces of land. The first step towards developing the design was to embrace the site's mosaic of 10,000 existing plots. With that, the team preserved and reinforced the patches, and improved the water system by lining the boundaries between them with new canals and public paths, and by restoring and enlarging the Hrazdan River route to irrigate farmland and preserve water.
To further optimize the valley's potential, MVRDV added various facilities to the land, transforming it into a versatile and a future-proof landscape suitable for sustainable agriculture and living. Within the valley, existing roads along with additional walking and cycling paths will connect different villages together. Old buildings, which were built during Soviet times, will be entirely renovated to limit the waste of building materials. Their design will be inspired by traditional Armenian farmhouses, with vegetated roofs to make the valley attractive for different demographics.
Another aim was to make Gagarin Valley a more attractive place to visit, serving as a sought-after destination for people to walk, hike, cycle, and ride horses. The proposal includes a market hall, a commercial center, an arts center, and a stadium for 4,500 visitors. As for the heart of the valley, it will be formed by a spheric educational agricultural center surrounded by houses that form the vertical villages.
The Armenian government aims to provide the valley with financial support for sustainable agriculture and tourism. By 2026, the country looks to attract around 2.5 million tourists a year, which will be made possible with the transformation of Gagarin Valley.