OVERVIEW We have made enormous progress in changing the way historic architecture is perceived in Romania both by villagers and the authorities. In 2013 we informed as many villagers as possible of the historic building protection laws, so as to prevent further destruction of valuable buildings. Then in 2014 and 2015 we leaned more towards education and awareness - taking tours and giving lectures in the villages about the importance of old buildings, what they represent, and why they should be preserved and treasured. We also completed our traditional tile and brick kiln in Apos. During 2016 and 2017 we have built on these foundations, further strengthening our relationships with other charities, associations and government agencies, as well as using what we have learnt to build a second kiln to continue to provide low cost, traditionally made materials to ensure the preservation of the local architecture and skills in these villages.
We have carried out the photographic documentation of every traditional house in over 100 Transylvanian villages, as well as villages in Oltenia and other regions of Romania. The photographic documentation allows us to see which buildings urgently need to be repaired or protected, and over time, will serve as a unique reference library of the vernacular architecture of Transylvania
The Apos tile and brick kiln
Due to the lack of traditional hand-made terracotta tiles in Transylvania, as many small kilns have been closing down in recent years, we have helped a local craftsman to set up a new tile and brick kiln in the village of Apos in Sibiu county. The construction of the kiln, and the drying house next to it, was started in 2014 and finished in 2015. We achieved this with the help of HRH The Prince of Wales, in collaboration with the Monumentum Association and The Global Heritage Fund UK. It was opened during the summer of 2015 by HRH The Prince of Wales. There are now 5 firings per season and at present the kiln produces about 60,000 hand-made tiles and 25,000 bricks per year which are used locally for emergency repairs to traditional houses and for new buildings. At the same time we are training a new generation of tile makers. Due to the excellent quality of the tiles, and their competitive price, the tiles are sold out many months in advance, and as a result the kiln is a profitable concern. Following on the success of the first kiln a second kiln is now being built in the village of Hosman.
The Daia Project
In the village of Daia, south of Sighisoara, we have a joint project with Asociatia Monumentum and the Global Heritage Fund US. It is a social as well as an architectural project intended to encourage community awareness, pride and skills. There have been dances, workshops on traditional building (in collaboration with The Prince of Wales’s Foundation, Romania) and the employment of local craftsmen. In the process 30 historic buildings have been saved, 15 facades restored to their former glory, and 50 traditional windows mended or replaced. We have also offered free materials to villagers who wish to repair their own houses themselves, and this offer has been taken up many times. it is very encouraging to see, with a little support, how the village is coming back to life.
Emergency Repairs in other villages
Aside from Daia, we have also restored and carried out emergency repairs in a number of other villages, partly to save the houses and partly to illustrate how such repairs can be done using traditional methods, so as to serve as inspiration and encouragement to the local villagers. Repairs on houses have been completed in the villages of Apos, Richis, Roades (one of the houses there with the date of 1750 inscribed on a beam), and Beia where we have repaired the roof and façade of an 18th Century house in the hope of starting a village project there in the near future. The Prince of Wales’s Foundation (Romania)has agreed to organize and finance workshops in traditional building practices there in 2016.
Information and Raising Awareness
We have, in collaboration with the Romanian Ministry of Culture, erected 65 illustrated information panels in the counties of Brasov, Sibiu and Mures. These panels officially inform villagers of the law protecting old buildings, and their duties in this respect. These panels, which have helped prevent much destruction, are highly instructive and important in making people understand the legalities involved in correctly modernising and repairing their homes.
Talks and Conferences for Architects and Planners
Each year we help to facilitate conferences and seminars with architects, local planners and mayors to discuss contextual architecture and local planning regulations (PUGs). The PUGs are vital to ensuring that historic architecture is protected locally. They are legally binding, and are more enforceable than the national laws. If the PUGs are correctly compiled we will have won more than half the battle. Initially these conferences were held in Sibiu, Mures and Brasov but their success has made this an annual event and we hope to spread much further afield.
The Pro TV Campaign ‘Salveaza Romania Frumoasa – Casele au Suflet’ Save Beautiful Romania - Houses have souls'
We played an important role in bringing to fruition, and then playing a part in, a series of ten fifteen-minute programmes on all subjects relating to the protection and importance of Romania’s historic architecture. These programmes were braodcast by ProTV (Romania's most popular television channel) in 2015. The series was a given prime-time slot during the evening news and reached 9,000,000 Romanians. This has had a huge effect on persuading millions of Romanians all over the country that historic buildings, and the preservation of them, is of vital important for their future.
Veni Vidi Viscri
In the Summer of 2014 we took 1000 villagers from all parts of Saxon Transylvania on day trips to the village of Viscri. They were shown how villagers can benefit from saving their old buildings, and were given a tour of Prince Charles’s house there. Afterwards there were talks and discussions and presentations. As a direct result many villagers now understand the concept of saving old buildings, and rather than just automatically destroying them, as they might have before, have come to us to ask for help in restoring them with traditional techniques, thus saving the historic landscape, and giving work to local people. Many of those who came to the events have since restored their houses traditionally.
Jan Hulsemann’s Pattern Book of Transylvanian Rural Architecture.
We have been closely involved in translating and printing 1500 copies of Jan Hulsemann’s book, ‘The Transylvanian Saxon Village House’ from German into Romanian. It is a beautifully produced and illustrated guide on the correct way to preserve the historic old buildings of the area. Free copies were given to all the town halls in Southern Transylvania, and it is being sold in bookshops all over Romania.
Workshops for Student Architects and local craftsmen There have been workshops in 2015 and 2016, in our tile and brick kiln in the village of Apos to show students and architects the techniques of tile and brick making, and why it is so important to use traditional materials in historic restoration.
Partnership with the GHF In 2013 we formed a partnership with the Global Heritage Fund to work with the national and local governments as well as with the village communities to help preserve this highly significant cultural landscape through documentation, public education and outreach, and the revival of traditional and sustainable building crafts.