THE VERNACULAR HERITAGE OF GJIROKASTRA (ALBANIA): ANALYSIS OF URBAN AND CONSTRUCTIVE FEATURES, THREATS AND CONSERVATION STRATEGIES
Keywords: World heritage site, Vernacular heritage documentation, Balkan vernacular heritage, Building culture
Abstract. The old town of Gjirokastra (Albania), was included in the World Heritage List in 2005 thanks to the valuable presence of several remarkable examples of Ottoman-styled houses and in the integrity of the vernacular urban landscape. The urban structure is strongly influenced by the orography of the Drino valley and its slopes where the city was founded. Stone is the building material that characterizes the paving of the streets, the walls of the buildings and the roof coverings. The wood, mostly local, was used to build the frame structure of the upper floors and the roofs, in order to provide large windows and bright interior spaces. In December 2018, as part of the activities of the 3D Past project, founded by Eu Creative Europe Programme, Italian and Albanian students took part in a workshop in Gjirokastra. Such an initiative was designed to understand the tangible and intangible components of the vernacular heritage of Gjrokastra. In a multidisciplinary approach, students, professors, researchers and local experts analysed the morphological features of the historic center, the public spaces, and the traditional building systems. Traditional instruments such as the direct survey, the on-site observation and the interviews were adopted in combination with more innovative tools such as the laser scanner and the photogrammetry. This contribution not only illustrates the results of a multi-scale analysis, but it also highlights the transformations and threats that endanger the transmission of the unique characteristics of the city to the future generations. Moreover, it deals with the conservation strategies currently in use and some possible future measures that can contribute to the sustainable safeguard and development of the site.