The story of Gurgai house, one focus of CHwB’s current efforts, is the story of many beautiful, historic houses in Gjirokastra. Located next to the historic bazaar, the property once included two main tower houses and a mill. Through the course of history many changes occurred, like in 1951, when the Communist government took the house. Parts of it were rented to different families, while another part was used as a kindergarten for several years. When the family legally took the property back, there were still other families living inside and the house was in poor condition — five years ago, it was finally abandoned.
Houses need to be lived in to be healthy. As the Gurgai house sat abandoned, the roof started to leak. Water damage completely ruined part of the roof and entered into the stone walls and wooden floors, creating serious problems in the structure. Unfortunately, the situation at Gurgai house is similar to many houses in Gjirokastra, where a small hole in the roof can lead very quickly to the building’s collapse. However, this monument was chosen for an intervention because immediate actions would be able to reverse its destruction and secure its future. Its case can show that relatively minor interventions, when done in time, can save monuments that face the same kind of problems.
The interventions at Gurgai monument are part of the project “Gjirokastra: Where the Change Begins”, implemented by CHwB. This is the first project to deal with ruined monuments in the historic center of the city of Gjirokastra. The ultimate goal is to consolidate several monuments that are in danger of partial or total collapse, while using them to raise awareness about the many monuments that are in need of urgent interventions, and to suggest possible solutions. With this aim, a series of workshops involving local stakeholders will be organized, in addition to the physical interventions.
The works at Gurgai monument have begun with the removal of the parts of the roof that had collapsed and with cleaning out the debris from all the floors.The works programmed for this monument include necessary interventions in the roof construction and propping of damaged walls and floors.