Springe zum Inhalt

The dilemma of rural architecture – part III (Greece)

- with emphasis on Kazaviti village, Thassos Island

Note also articles/parts I (Introduction/general); II (New Guinea - Melanesia) and IV (Bavaria)

All pictures and captions on page 5

The schizofrenic situation in Greece is characterized by the overwhelming power of urban life style on the one hand side, and close affinity of town people to the village where their forefathers lived, on the other. “Tradition” is on everybody's lips, but hardly anyone really understands what it means. And praxis shows the opposite of preserving the old. Pseudo-rustic design is in vogue as fulfilment of nostalgia – without that people have maintained any meaningful comprehension of village heritage.

The urban skeleton-beton-building fashion has spread over the entire countryside. This excessive use of amorphic cement allows quick and relatively cheap construction in any shape. The former solid construction of stone, brick, lime and clay was replaced by the ubiquitous „τσιμεντάκι” building fashion. Any aspects of wellness, in particular insulation against summer heat, and other qualities like balanced room space and hygienic installations were neglected. The towns had lost most of their historical buildings due to the (Konstantinos) Karamanlis incentive of subsidies for replacing/demolishing traditional architecture. Within the time span of only two generations people had become accustomed to dwelling in a face-less cast beton environment. And carry these deteriorated views like an epidemic of decadence all over the place.

Building regulations are manipulated at random, corruption has to be considered a realistic component. Keeping to (genuine) traditions remains an alien matter even in settlements with an official conservation status. Any appreciation of the historical, simple rural building style is non-existent. The actual attractiveness of such true village-style, plain and simple but genuine accomodation for foreign tourists (as guest houses) is not understood. The simple beauty of rural architecture in the views of citicens got be improved by kitsch and other embellishments that are taken from a sub-urban environment (# 36 - # 38). The few remaining protected pure-style villages are all being safeguarded by those local people who care - not one of them by government authority.

Applications by private owners to place their historical village houses under conservation order are regarded as an unwanted extra load of work on the side of the planning offices. Action of any kind is postponed from year to year, accordingly. And if the owners do not undertake the necessary restoration work without that their premises have been given a conservation status (and therfore might qualify for some support in terms of EU subsidies) there will be no progress whatsoever, except of course of the continuing decay.

Land rights, the course of old village roads and the boundaries of common land in the environment of old villages are a matter of dispute, unlawful claims and annexions. The courts have little documentation at hand to refer to.

Veröffentlicht am Kategorien ECOCULTURE, European Dilemma - Greek Tragedy, KazavitionSchlagwörter , , , ,

Über Thomas Schultze-Westrum

Dr. Thomas Georg Hans SCHULTZE-WESTRUM Author of Scientific and Popular Publications Producer and Director of Documentary Films and Videos Adviser in Nature Conservation and Preservation of Rural Cultures Initiator of Conservation Programmes German national. Born 1937 (Berlin). Classical education at the Benedictine monastery of Ettal in Upper Bavaria. Graduate of Munich University, with degrees in Zoology, Geology and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology). Scholarship by “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes”. Research (University of Munich, other scientific institutions) and publications on social and population physiology of marsupials and other vertebrate fauna of New Guinea and the Mediterranean Region, cultural anthropology, conservation and resource management on the village level, mainly in Greece and New Guinea. Author of the books “New Guinea” (Berne 1972) and “Biologie des Friedens” (Biology of Peace), Munich 1974. Dr. Schultze-Westrum has joined for several years the Commissions on Ecology and Environmental Planning of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). He is the founder of the working group (IUCN Commission on Ecology) “Conservation and Traditional Life Styles” 1979; the “ECOCULTURE” Movement 1981; the “Gesellschaft für die Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen” GEH (Society for the Preservation of Old and Endangered Breeds of Domestic Animals) 1981; and the non-profit-making society “KALLIERGIA”, for traditional agriculture and village conservation in Greece, 1993. As a consultant he has worked for the EU, IUCN, OECD and WWF. As a film maker he has produced, directed and mostly also shot, for German television and international TV networks, 75 documentaries, mainly ecological portraits with emphasis upon the integration of local and traditionally living people into conservation projects. His first film (1974) was about alternative (sustainable) utilization of tropical rainforests in New Guinea, for ZDF. Never Dr. Schultze-Westrum has entered any of his films into an award winning competition, because he is more concerned about the effects of his TV work in actual conservation and public awareness. One of these real awards was the creation of the Marine National Park Alonnisos Northern Sporades in Greece as a result of his film “The Coast of the Monk Seals” in 1976/77 for ZDF (ratings 36 % - shown in 11 countries). His programme “Green Desert”, about traditional water management in the Sultanate of Oman was distributed by the Television Trust for the Environment TVE to 44, mainly Third World, countries. Another leading aspect of his film work was the production of environmental films for the people of the country where he was filming. So, he produced the first TV series of films on ecology, rural life styles and conservation for Greece (in the early 80’s, 14 programmes) and for the Sultanate of Oman (late 80’s, 12 films). His deep interest in ancient human traditions inspired him to produce “Omani Seafaring”, for Oman TV; “Im Kielwasser Sindbads” (In the Wake of Sindbad), for the series Terra X of ZDF; and “Insel der Magier” (Island of the Sorcerers: Waigeo) for ARTE TV. After retiring from TV film production at the end of 2002 he is returning to his earlier scientific work (abandoned in the early 70’s) about the social and population physiology of marsupials ( Petaurus breviceps papuanus and closely related species); village based conservation; the evolution of human communal behaviour and cultural diversity; and the evolution of art styles in the Papuan Gulf province of New Guinea. Since 1992 he is also involved in eco- and agrotourism programmes that are based on his earlier promotion of this alternative “soft” tourism through publications and films, in Greece and West Papua. His conservation activities are continuously focussed on Greece and New Guinea, since 1957 and 1959, respectively. Dr. Schultze-Westrum now is writing up his experiences of many years field work and he is keeping communications alive through his homepage, from the ancient village of Kazaviti on the island of Thassos in the northern Aegean Sea. The conservation and re-activation of outstanding traditional values of Kazaviti stand at the centre of a local museum and documentation centre to be set up in one or even two old Macedonian stone houses.