The dilemma of rural architecture – part III (Greece)

Published by: Thomas Schultze-Westrum

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– 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.

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This entry was posted on Oktober 5, 2010 at 19:24 and is filed under ECOCULTURE, European Dilemma - Greek Tragedy, Kazavition.

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