A threefold project dedicated to the role of small settlements and the relevance of local cultures in the post Covid era. A gathering of joint work, a participatory restoration project and an international symposium are the three parts of the programme which starts in spring 2021 and concludes in
Under The Landscape
— Name, Title
Boulouki, the Municipality of Thera and the local community of Therasia are organizing in partnership the programme 'Under the Landscape: Therasia 21-22'. This initiative sets 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' will attempt, 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' will also open the discussion beyond the terms of ‘protection and preservation’ of historical ensembles and investigate 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 will include; open discussions with the participation of the local community, as well as special visual art projects inspired by the vernacular material culture. These events will constitute major aspects of 'Under the Landscape'.
Setting at its epicenter is the use of 'theran earth' and other local volcanic materials in architecture, 'Under the landscape' will explore the multiple levels of this unique material culture paradigm and trace its contemporary dynamics. This process will be conducted through educational and participatory events and will focus on three main points of interest:
Theran mortars | Cave structures | Cultural landscape
Within the context above, 'Under the Landscape' will follow 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' is designed in three distinct phases occurring in Therasia between spring 2021 to spring 2022.
+ GATHERING | The project’s inauguration will be 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 will be presented (April 2022).
A fundamental aspect of the initiative is the scientific research over 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' will 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 deserted 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.
Boulouki is an interdisciplinary research and education collaborative. Our work is focused on the study of traditional building techniques and materials, related to the protection, conservation and promotion of cultural heritage. Our aim is to contribute to the study of traditional building techniques as an operative field of knowledge, orientated —apart from conservation and documentation— towards contemporary building practices. Based upon these thematic axes, the group’s course of action includes conducting research, organizing workshops, conferences and events, and promoting projects in collaboration with the local communities and their stakeholders.
The project “Under the Landscape” is designed and implemented by an Interdisciplinary team; professionals and researchers of various specialties, such as architecture, art, material science, archaeology and cultural management who join forces 'under the landscape'.
For the conduction of “Under the landscape” various collaborations have been established with academic, research and other institutions. These include the Athens School of Fine Arts, the Department of Architecture of ETH Zurich, the Building Materials Lab of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the Hellenic Survey of Geology and Mineral Exploration (HSGME) and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades.
Grigoris Koutropoulos, Panos Kostoulas, Ionas Sklavounos, Christoforos Theocharis
Maria Chassioti, Savvas Christodoulou, Yiorgos Kyvernitis, Ioanna Ntoutsi, Nikiforos Meimaroglou, Marilena Mela, Faidon Moudopoulos, Giouli Stylianidou, Sofia Theodoraki, Maria Theodosi, Anna Zacharaki
Giorgos Anastasiadis, Vasilis Ganiatsas, Marie D. Jackson, Loukas Loukidis, Nikolaos Tranos, Christos Papatrexas, Florian Schrott
Written by alphabetical order