The participatory project 'Under the Landscape' initiates a tangible approach to the traditional building techniques and the vernacular craftsmanship of Therasia, while exploring multiple aspects of the place and its landscape through alternative patterns for cultural heritage appreciation and knowledge dissemination. The following events, starting from theran materials and uses are:
The restoration project will take place in Agrilia and will focus on the repair of a major part of the main cobbled pathway (kalderimi) and its lateral dry stone walls. The pathway forms a passage leading to Panagia tou Lagadiou (in Greek meaning Our Lady of the Dale), a historical church-landmark in locals’ culture. In parallel, conservation interventions will be undertaken in two cisterns embedded in the pathway’s route and function.
These constructive elements create a significant architectural complex within Agrilia’s residential plan, while revealing aspects of the vernacular technology; the drystone building and the preparation of waterproofing mortars with the local volcanic materials. Both of these almost forgotten techniques are remarkable because they depict an intrinsic linkage with the use of raw materials and they constitute both tangible and intangible heritage, as well as experienced knowledge living in local memories.
The restoration works will be completed through the professional apprenticeship and the 12-day hands-on workshop on traditional building techniques.
Professional apprenticeship for young technicians
During five (5) weeks (23th August - 24th September 2021) six (6) young technicians will be trained on the use of volcanic materials under the guidance of three (3) expert masons. The apprenticeship is addressed to young professionals from Therasia and Thera.
“Boulouki” fosters the direct engagement of professionals who reside and work in the areas where each project take place, aiming to the reclamation of the traditional building crafts by the modern enactors; the still active local masons.
Through the hands-on workshop the enrichment of the existing knowledge and technical experience over the use of local and natural materials in architecture and art is pursued. This process aims to designate the distinct features of the volcanic landscape, discerned in the unique natural and architectural morphology shaped throughout the centuries after the Thera eruption.
Based on this context and for two (2) weeks (6 – 17 September 2021), young students and professionals will be familiarised with the theran volcanic materials following either of the two directions:
Direction 'Traditional Building Techniques'
Twenty (20) young architects, engineers and artists –including several selected undergraduate students from the ETH-Zurich, Department of Architecture– will corroborate the restoration works and will delve into the vernacular building craft and materials, as well as into modern architectural approaches and alternative cultural management patterns.
Apart from the restoration project, the workshop will focus on the study of the underground and vaulted structures of the island and their special building techniques, through field research, practical experimentation and mason’s guidance over the processing and use of raw materials and tools.
Direction 'Contemporary Sculpture'
In the forecourt of the historical monastery Panagia Kera, near a major archaeological prehistoric excavation site, ten (10) ASFA students will utilize the local volcanic materials in modern sculptural creation, through a 12-day residency and under the guidance of experienced ASFA instructors. Based on the scientific and artistic research results, they will attempt to use diverse mixes of 'aspa' with lime and define their limitations and transformations through casting, molding and mixed sculptural techniques.
The creation of original artworks inspired by the place’s identity and materiality is an initiative which promotes contemporary Greek art and its linkage with architecture and cultural heritage. The artworks will be exhibited during the Symposium.
All participants will have the opportunity to follow several seminars approaching landscape through different perspectives:
'Into the underneath', focusing on the spatial development, the typology and building techniques of the underground settlement of Agrilia,
'Theran mortars', focusing on binding mortars, plasters and pumice-concretes of Agrilia, through theoretical and hands-on training over the selection of materials, their processing, properties and application.
'Ruins and roots', focusing on archaeological and agricultural aspects of landscape, having Agrilia and Therasia as its case study.
'Articulating tephra', focusing on the sculptural use of local materials and coordinated by ASFA students and instructors.
On Saturday 11/09, lectures on architecture, material science, art and natural environment will be given by distinct speakers and associates of the project from Greece and abroad and will be accessible to the public.
Close-up of the main cobbled pathway (kalderimi) of Agrilia, where the restoration project will take place.
Photograph : Dimitris Paridis
“Under the Landscape” initiative aims at the appreciation of the multi-dimensional dynamics of Therasia’s material culture, by a tangible and collective approach: a key-approach for combining the scientific and artistic perspectives and for tracing the interfaces between architecture and art, scientific methodology and unbound expression, theory and embodied knowledge. And it seems to be the same approach we all need nowadays in order to interpret and manage the various “landscapes” of our modern life– over Therasia and beyond.