Kalderimi X2 | 2month apprenticeship and 12days workshop in Plaka, Tzoumerka (Epirus, Greece)

By September 14, 2019Uncategorized

Craftsmen, engineers and artists, students, academics and professionals from Greece and the Balkans, meet at the old cobbled pathway that leads to the bridge of Plaka.

  • Craftsmen apprenticeship   –   Plaka Camp: 9/9 – 31/10    2 months of work and training on the traditional craft of the “kalderimi”
  • Stone Masonry Workshop   –   Plaka Workshop: 16 – 27 /10   12 days of practice and theory on stone building

KALDERIMI – COBBLED PATHWAY

This project consists in the restoration of the old cobbled pathway that leads to the Plaka Bridge. The works will take place during the autumn of 2019, while in the same time, the reconstruction of the bridge itself will be reaching completion. The cobbled pathway, which is 400m long and was partially reconditioned during the last year’s Stone Masonry Workshop, has suffered major alterations and severe damages during the past decades, and has been largely forgotten in favor of a recently constructed path, stretching across the bank of Arachthos River. If the above describe the troublesome nature of the present condition, they also imply our project’s deliverables: the old cobbled pathway, fully functional, in its authentic form.

X2 – TWO SUPERPOSED WORKSHOPS

The emphasis on the educational process and the need to complete the project in time, led us to the combination of two different approaches and two different scales of operation. Namely:

  • A two-month apprenticeship (Plaka Camp), addressed to young professionals of the building sector, who will be working under the guidance of three experienced masons—tutors, and will receive daily compensation.
  • An intensive twelve-day workshop (Plaka Workshop) which aims at a wider audience (engineers and artists, students and professionals), which will be held during the last two weeks of the Plaka Camp.

The Municipality of North Tzoumerka, the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE-TCG) and the Western Macedonia Department of the TCG, stand as co-organizers of this project, which is officially supported by the Metsovion Interdisciplinary Research Center (MIRC) of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA).

(A) Two-month apprenticeship – Plaka Camp

For the extensive two-month apprenticeship, nine (9) positions are opened, for professionals under the age of 45 years: six (6) of these positions are to be occupied by craftsmen who are presently active in the region of Epirus, and three (3) are earmarked for professionals from other Balkan countries. The trainees will be provided accommodation near the working site and a compensation of 30 euros per day (1050 euros in total net salary).

The selection criteria can be described as follows:

  • MOTIVE OF PARTICIPATION and LEVEL OF ENGAGEMENT. The two-month apprenticeship refers solely to professional craftsmen who are already involved in the construction field.
  • The professional experience on stone structures and traditional building techniques will be taken into account, as well as any participation in similar workshops and trainings.
  • The trainees must be under 45 years of age
  • This call is addressed to craftsmen from all over Greece and the Balkans; although, concerning the six (6) positions for Greek participants, priority will be given to local residents of Tzoumerka and the broader region of Epirus.

Trainees will be distributed along the old pathway into three working groups (of three members), each team working under the supervision of one experienced mason—tutor, who will be in charge. The construction and training process will be headed by Kostas Tarnanas from Pentalofos (Kozani, Greece), one of the most renowned stone masons in Greece; while next to him will be the highly experienced stone—masons Yorgos Anastasiadis from Amygdaleonas (Kavala, Greece) and Dimitris Fotis from Koukoulia (Epirus, Greece).

(B) Twelve-day stone masonry workshop – Plaka Workshop

For the twelve-day stone masonry workshop, twenty seven (27) positions are opened, for participants from Greece and abroad (students and professionals, engineers, researchers, artists). Nine (9) of these positions will be offered to participants from Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina) with a full scholarship. These nine places are funded by The Headley Trust.

  • 18 participants from Greece and abroad
  • 9 participants from Balkan countries

Moreover, three (3) places for volunteers are opened. Volunteers will be provided room and board (breakfast, elevenses and two meals) for the twelve days of the Stone Masonry Workshop. More specifically, Boulouki calls for two (2) prefects and one (1) interpreter (Greek—English), to assist in the implementation of the project on the field, as well as in lectures, cultural activities and excursions. The knowledge of both English and Greek is considered necessary for all three positions, while the knowledge of other languages will be taken into account. As a necessary precondition for applying for a volunteer position, is having attended a Boulouki workshop in the past.

  • 2 volunteers from Greece (one interpreter and one prefect position)
  • 1 volunteer from the Balkans (one prefect position)

During these twelve days, participants will be distributed in the three working groups which will already be on the field and work alongside the nine professional apprentices, under the guidance of the masons—tutors. Also, during this time, trainees of both programs will have the chance to be introduced in various approaches of craftsmanship as a distinct and multifaceted form of knowledge, through lectures of practical and theoretical content, delivered by respected academics and renowned professionals from the fields of construction and restoration; as well as through visits at historic places, practical demonstrations and cultural activities. Among the distinguished lecturers who will honor us with their presence are:

  • Manolis Korres, Emeritus Professor in History of Architecture in the NTUA
  • Panagiotis Touliatos, Emeritus Professor of the National Technical University of Athens, Professor and President of the Department of Architecture, University of Frederick
  • Vasilis Ganiatsas, Professor in architectural design & theory of architecture, director of Architectural Form and Orders Lab in the NTUA
  • Yorgos Smiris, assistant Professor in history of architecture in the University of Ioannina
  • Vasilios Melfos, associate Professor in Economic Geology-Geochemistry in the AUTH
  • Nikos Katsoulakos, PhD Mechanical Engineer, Post-doctoral researcher M.I.R.C.
  • Aeneas Oikonomou, PhD Architect
  • Maria Mpalodimou, Architect MSc, PhD candidate NTUA
  • Christos Giannelos, Civil Engineer MSc, PhD Candidate NTUA
  • Christos Takos, Architect MSc
  • Panagiota Andrianopoulou, Ethnologist – Head of Collections, Research and Documentation of Folk Art, Museum of Modern Greek Culture, UNESCO ICH Facilitator

We are also particularly pleased to announce that David Baxter (European Projects Director of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, IHBC) will be one of our main collaborators during the full length of the twelve–day workshop, sharing his knowledge and experience in heritage management through the teaching of traditional building craft skills, in the repair and maintenance of historic buildings. Furthermore, we are thrilled to announce that the great sculptor and Professor Emeritus at the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) Theodoros Papagianis, has agreed to contribute in the renovation of the old pathway, by carving a limited number of stones, with references to symbolic forms of the building tradition of Epirus, to be embedded in selected places in the new ‘kalderimi’.

Detail from the floor of the courtyard at the Panagia Tsouka Monastery in Ioannina region

THE TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUE AND THE AUTHENTIC ‘KALDERIMI’

One of the main goals of this educational action is to re-introduce Greek and Balkan craftsmen to the –more or less– forgotten traditional technique of ‘kalderimi’ and to engage with a gap of knowledge that has already cost dearly to the traditional settlements of Epirus and the historic ensembles of Balkans in general. It could be stated here, that contemporary attempts of external paving in such environments, are good examples of how ignorance and disregard around the specific elements that constitute the traditional techniques, have often resulted in small or bigger ‘crimes’ in many vernacular settlements. It is therefore understood that ‘investing’ in the retrieval of this knowledge by the very people who live and work in these settlements is an important first step towards the reversal of this trend.

Kostas Tarnanas (on the left) and Pavlos Vihas (on the right) during the last year’s stone masonry workshop “Boulouki at the Bridge”

Of course, what is here described as an ‘authentic kalderimi’ goes beyond a strictly technical analysis; nevertheless, specific observations on particular matters seem to be the safest points of departure for a careful approach of traditional knowledge, as well as to address the complex prospects and challenges posed by traditional cultural landscapes in general. In this sense, the ‘authentic kalderimi’ can be seen as a technical matter, as well as a cultural artifact and a ‘mode’ to be investigated and interpreted. This is the reason why the co-existence of masons and apprentices, engineers, researchers and academics on the field is so important. Through such gatherings we believe that a retrieval of traditional knowledge is indeed possible, starting with the audiences responsible to identify and respect such knowledge; share it and contribute to its further development.

 

OUR RETURN TO PLAKA, TZOUMERKA

The dynamics developed between organizers and tutors, participants and the local society, during the Stone Masonry Workshop of the last summer, played a significant role in our decision to return to Plaka this year. In this context it is that we understand the demand for a full restoration of the old pathway, as it was spontaneously expressed from the local community. From our point of view, we felt that responding to this request may strengthen the trust of local societies (of Plaka and Tzoumerka in general) in similar initiatives of protection, preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage. In the same time, the full reconditioning of the old pathway describes the scale and level of integration that our team considers necessary, in order to achieve a satisfactory impact on the built environment and the everyday life of local communities. Furthermore we felt it appropriate to draw from our experience of the area and build upon the relations developed with craftsmen, local stakeholders and the Municipality of North Tzoumerka, who once again support our effort.

‘TUNING’ WITH THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PLAKA BRIDGE

As it has already been mentioned, an important aspect of this project, is its tuning with the reconstruction works of the Plaka Bridge, which are expected to be coming to a conclusion by the end of October 2019. Apart from its symbolic dimension, this conjuncture has a particular educational value, as it presents us with the opportunity to visit and examine a unique working site, since this is the largest stone building endeavor that has taken place in Greece, for the last many decades; while until its collapse in February 2015, the bridge of Plaka was the largest one-arched bridge of the entire Balkan area.

Furthermore, we believe that the reconstruction of this historical landmark is a first class opportunity to open up the debate around the issues of traditional building techniques, not just as part of the discipline of restoration, but as a broad professional field and a living practice, able to find its place among contemporary practices of building.

ALLTOGETHER, Kalderimi X2 will take place from 9 September until 31 October 2019. As mentioned above, the program includes the training of nine (9) young professionals who will work in three groups, each in different part of the pathway, under the guidance of an experienced mason—tutor. These three crews will be on the site for nearly two months and will carry out the largest part of the work. Nevertheless, the meeting of these crews with the twenty-seven (27) participants of the twelve-day stone masonry workshop that will take place between 16–27 October 2019, is expected to be of particular significance, both in terms of practical results and educational value. Placed in the last two weeks of October, this workshop will close the circle of the two-month camp and in the same time, open up its doors to a much wider public, providing an open platform, to host the dialogue around the prospects and challenges of cultural heritage. In this direction, our team has composed a detailed program which will be gradually presented as the opening of the Plaka Workshop will be approaching.

In this effort we are excited to have on our side the Municipality of North Tzoumerka, the Technical Chamber of Greece and the Western Macedonia Department of the TCG, as co-organizers of this action. As already mentioned, the support of the Headley Trust has been of major significance, and we will be honored to host its members for the closing of the works, at the end of October. In the same time, we are still in search of partners in order to complete this endeavor in the best possible terms.

In addition, we have tried to strengthen our relationships with major educational institutions of the country, such as the National Technical University of Athens, the University of Patras, the University of Ioannina; as well as with relevant organizations from Greece and abroad, such as the Swedish NGO ‘Cultural Heritage without Borders’, team ‘Dragodid’ from Croatia, and the association ‘Anthi tis Petras’, from Lagadia (Arcadia, Greece), in an effort to maintain a high level of diversity and interdisciplinarity in our approach.

We sincerely believe that through such procedures, new craftsmen can come to the forefront, as well as new engineers; showing their skills clearly and in practice, while opening the way for a different understanding of traditional building. In the same time, activating a series of local bodies (such as local administration and local companies), seems to also have a pedagogical role, in the sense of raising awareness around alternative models of growth and heritage management. This kind of integration is considered as a key for the viability of such projects, pushing the sides involved in taking action, drafting proposals and seeking solutions for the enhancement of a heritage that not only needs ‘not to be lost’, but also seems to carry a lot of the answers that are missing today.

In this direction it is that we designed the restoration of the old pathway that leads to the Plaka Bridge, through two superposed workshops; and we call those interested to register for participation.

IN SHORT:

2month craftsmen apprenticeship | Plaka Camp

  • 9 September — 31 October 2019
  • Monday — Friday, 08:00 – 16:00
  • Accommodation Included
  • Compensation of 30 euros / day
  • Full attendance of the 12day workshop
  • Applications deadline: 22 August 2019

 

12day stone masonry workshop | Plaka Workshop

  • 16 — 27 October 2019
  • 18 participants from Greece and abroad
  • 9 participants from Balkan countries
  • Participation fee (including room and half board )
    • 500 euros
    • 350 euros, for students and unemployed
  • 2 volunteers from Greece (one interpreter + one prefect position)
  • 1 volunteer from the Balkans (prefect position)
  • Application deadline 8 September 2019

Apply