A threefold project οn the agency of places in times of multiple crises.
A gathering of joint work, a participatory restoration project and an international symposium are the three parts of the program, which started in spring 2021 and concluded in summer 2022.
Under The Landscape
— Name, Title
Boulouki organized the programme 'Under the Landscape: Therasia 21-22', which had at its core a 'hands-on' investigation over the knowledge behind the traditional 'theran' mortars, the cultural values underlying the cave structures and the landscape narrative of Therasia and Thera.
Simultaneously, in a time of great enthusiasm with 'scapes' of all kinds, 'Under the landscape' attempted, through its applied and theoretical approach, to question contemporary understandings of landscape as an aesthetic category and the ethical aspects of this notion. In this spirit, 'Under the Landscape' also opened up the discussion beyond the terms of ‘protection and preservation’ of historical ensembles and investigated the role of local cultures and the potential significance of a place in the context of climate change, global pandemics, mass tourism, mass migration and the so called 4th industrial revolution.
Diverse events to share the project’s purposes included; open discussions with the participation of the local community, as well as special visual art projects inspired by the vernacular material culture. These events constituted major aspects of 'Under the Landscape'.
Setting at its epicenter the use of 'theran earth' and other local volcanic materials in architecture, 'Under the landscape' explored the multiple levels of this unique material culture paradigm and traced its contemporary dynamics. This process was conducted through educational and participatory events and focused on three main points of interest:
Theran mortars | Cave structures | Cultural landscape
Within the context above, 'Under the Landscape' followed a path starting from the materials and moving towards the technical and symbolic essence they become throughout time –using the tangible and participatory approach that 'Boulouki' has developed during its 3-year intensive programmes of training, researching and working with traditional materials.
'Under the landscape' was designed in three distinct phases occurring in Therasia and Santorini between spring 2021 to summer 2022.
+ GATHERING | The project’s inauguration was through the collaborative cleaning of pathways’ alongside students of the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) as well as the teachers and high-school students of Therasia (May 2021).
+ RESTORATION PROJECT | A participatory restoration project conducted through a young technician’s apprenticeship and framed with a hands-on workshop on local building techniques and contemporary sculpture (September 2021) .
+ SYMPOSIUM | An international symposium with distinguished speakers over the notion of 'landscape', during which the outcomes of the previous phases were presented (June 2022).
A fundamental aspect of the initiative was the scientific research on the traditional hydraulic mortars based on 'theran earth' and other volcanic materials,, their production technology and application techniques.
Therasia is an island of a little bit more than 9km2 and 300 inhabitants, part of the volcanic island group of Thera —also known as Santorini— in Cyclades, Greece. 'Under the landscape' was be held in Agrilia, Therasia’s most important underground settlement and in the Monastery of Panagia Kera, at Cape Tripiti. The initiative highlights the unique materiality of Thera and Therasia, determined by the area’s distinct geological history and expressed in art, architecture and within the local culture.
In the Archipelago of Santorini, traditional building techniques are inseparable from the place’s natural resources —'theran earth', pumice stone, black and red volcanic stones— as much from the structural solutions and architectural typologies that have evolved in the passage of time. The latter’s most distinctive category is the so-called spilies (in Greek meaning caves), the underground spaces carved into the soft volcanic ground, which determined in many ways the formation of this unique landscape.
Agrilia, the geographical core of the restoration project, serves as a pertinent example of the fundamental relation between the anthropogenic and natural environment, as depicted in the settlement’s conformation for the daily labor and the social organisation. These include the underground spaces for the wine production (kanaves), cave-houses, land terraces for agriculture (pezoules) and drystone walls compile an architectural assemblage of exquisite plasticity and functionality. Agrilia, one of the oldest settlements of the island, was gradually abandoned until 1960 since its residents migrated mostly to the urban centers of Piraeus and Lavrion (Attica).
“Under the landscape” aims at the rejuvenation of an abandoned underground settlement and a monastery into active open spaces for collaborative work and research on traditional craftsmanship and contemporary making. Its scope extends to the reinvention of tradition and cultural heritage, as a tool for the local character safeguarding and the collective memories’ preservation. In parallel, it triggers a dialogue over alternative development and cultural management patterns.
Most importantly, it explores how small island communities may function as cores of social empowerment and creativity through the participatory and collective care of their legacy and resources.