Bringing Life to the Ruins



A panorama view of the cleaned and supported Hadëri house ruins.

There is a clear difference between what Gjirokastra is and what it could be. The city’s great potential is rapidly fading away, with monuments abandoned, roofs without maintenance and houses falling to ruin. How should we treat these ruins? Should we leave them as memorials to a particular historical period? Should we remove the debris and build something new? There are many possible approaches.

Shoring up the stone walls at Hadëri house.

Shoring up the stone walls at Hadëri house.

“Gjirokastra: Where the change begins” seeks to raise awareness on this issue by taking a particularly pioneering approach to two ruined monuments in the historic core of the city.

This approach is based on taking emergency action to prevent the buildings from collapsing further. We did this by investing our small means in stabilizing the monuments, so that they can survive until a larger fund can be found to restore them. We also printed banners to show what this monument could look like if restored, in order to raise awareness about the needs of these buildings and to showcase their potential.

One of the first emergency interventions has been concluded on Hadëri monument, and to our great satisfaction, we received enormous feedback from the local community. The intervention itself included cleaning the building, reinforcing the stone walls and vaults with timber constructions, building a temporary roof, securing the site and placing a banner on the façade. The first ones, the structural interventions, were made in order to stop the further deterioration of the monument and make it safe for a full conservation intervention in the future. The purpose of the banner on the façade is to temporarily bring back the lost value and the lost memory of the house and to reveal the potential these monuments could have.

Installing the wooden scaffolding at Hadëri house.

Installing the wooden scaffolding at Hadëri house.

The banner partially covers two sides of the house while showing an image of the building before it fell into ruin.  The part of the façade not covered by a banner is the façade as it is today: a monument in a deteriorated condition. Juxtaposing these two very contrasting images allows the viewer to see what this monument could be if restored. In this way, we wanted to treat the ruin not as a monument to its passing history, but as a potential — that with some determination and investment it can be brought back to life.

This type of emergency intervention is a temporary and a partial solution for the monument.

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