The 19th Regional Restoration Camp in Gjirokastra, Albania is inspiring participants to think about conservation in new ways and consider working with restoration in their profession. After a week in Gjirokastra, some of them are even hoping to move here!
The 35 students and young professionals participating in the 19th RRC come from 11 countries around the Balkans and across Europe. Looking back on the first week of the Camp, participants have been able to get a wide variety of experiences. Once they arrived, they broke into six working groups, so that everyone can get hands-on experience. Works include restoring two plaster façades, a dry stone wall and the roof of an entrance gate for several historic buildings, as well as completing an intensive single-house survey of a ruined monument and a broader assessment survey of the ruins located in Gjirokastra’s historic core.
Participants are making a lot of useful connections between Albania and the places where they live, too. For Miledi, who is an Albanian living in Greece, the 19th RRC is her first chance to create a professional network in her motherland. She enjoys the chance to get out of the studio and use the house survey experience to really understand the historic spaces of Gjirokastra and the way people lived in them. Jana, coming from Macedonia, looks forward to sharing what she has learned during the 19th RRC with her architecture students back home.
Along with the lectures and hands-on works, participants also get to share in the arts of Gjirokastra in other ways – a local artist is leading a free hand drawing class within the beautiful Skenduli house, and an instructor from the cultural center is teaching the participants the traditional dances of Albania.
The formation of the working group that will survey the ruined buildings of Gjirokastra is unique to the 19th RRC. So far, this group has surveyed 2 out of the 7 neighborhoods of the historic zone and has already found and surveyed nearly 30 completely ruined monument buildings in this area. The group characterizes their work as part treasure hunt, part Sherlock Holmes. Andri from Cyprus particularly enjoys this fieldwork because it helps them to learn more about the social-economical history of Gjirokastra giving her a broader view of the city and the country. The greatest challenge, however, is not only identifying and mapping these ruins but eventually bringing life to them, as well.