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Vernacular Architecture In Dobrogea In The South-European Context - Conditioning Typologies, A Critique

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Andrei Serbescu
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism | Romania
My paper represents what I considered to be the natural approach to the theme of my graduation project. The incipient ideas that I had in mind at the moment of choosing the theme of the design project (a holiday village at the seaside), together with the particularities of the site, made it quite obvious to me that the best way to start was a study of the vernacular architecture of Dobrogea (the south-eastern part of Romania, between the Danube and the Black Sea). The study was extremely interesting and revealing, so it overcame the initial plan and grew into this paper.

Of great importance I considered to be the matter of "context" in the case of the Romanian vernacular architecture and in the case of Dobrogea region. The old architecture is the point of departure for every country's evolution in architecture, it is a national pride, and so it is in the case of Romania, but I think we might try to look a little bit different at this matter and see the fact that the borders of any type of "vernacular architecture" are not the political nor the geographical ones. This is why I discussed about the Romanian old houses as belonging to a Balkanic space in the first place. It is an amalgam of influences, of different countries' common history and way of living that give the general characteristics of a people, of a country or its architecture. In our case (the Romanians), the long debated issue of our belonging to a Balkanic space (defined by more coordinates than the geographical one) gives sometimes a negative meaning to this word, but my opinion is that, even if sometimes unaware, we are impregnated by a certain atmosphere, which I think is not purely "Romanian". Any strict limits, either political, ethnic or religious have nothing to do with this atmosphere. This is why I placed the study of the architecture of Dobrogea within a brief presentation of the vernacular architecture of the Balkans - because I think that one can feel the "spice" and "fragrance" of the Balkanic world even in the way in which our traditional architecture has evolved. In the natural response of the vernacular architecture to the numerous physical and cultural conditionings one can find a sort of "spontaneity" and a certain "looseness" that come, probably, from a "Wallachian mentality". This is a great heritage and I think that it should not be lost.

Andrei Serbescu

This work, taking into consideration that the student's Diploma Project is a "Holiday Village at Gura Portitei" (in Dobrogea - on the Danube Delta southern limit, between Danube Bank and Black Sea Shore), is obviously meant to theoretically substantiate the project by supplying the required general information upon cultural, economic and sociological environment of the site.

The dissertation is organised in 5 chapters structurizing clearly the project approach. The first chapter is building the study argumentation related to the project theme; the second chapter is dealing with the site (Dobrogea) architecture within a broader South-European context, carrying out a paralel of the above mentioned vernacular architectures whilst the 3rd chapter is analizying in-depth the definitory features of Dobrogea "folk" architecture, seeking for sources, establishing influences and typologies. Chapter 4 is dedicated to general conclusions and the transgression of these into the substance of the Diploma Project. The last chapter is dealing with the integration of the designed object into the choosen context.

The work is quite impressive by the coherence of the approach and it is also worth to notice the real and honest interest of the author for the topic. The study, based on a on-site research by the student Andrei Serbescu, is definitely a throughfully one, well structured and rich of famous bibliographic sources used as quotations and references. The photos list, of which many from his own archive, is also remarkable and is correctly supporting the theoretic approach. It is very important to note the alert and very personal language style of the author.

The special interest of the dissertation is resulting mainly from the very attempt to discover, preserve and leverage the elements of the vernacular architecture by accomplishing a sizeable urban insertion.

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