Strandzha traditional house

Field study § Lecture

As a member of the NGO “Meshtra- traditional knowledge and crafts”, I took part in the organization and realization of a large scale field study about the traditional houses in the Strandzha mountain region in Bulgaria. It was sponsored by the Bulgarian National fund for culture and spanned more than 2 years.

Together with a team of architecture students and volunteers we studied 8 remote villages with many relatively well preserved houses from the 19th century. We thoroughly documented the old houses’ particularities and their current state of preservation, interviewed the locals and tried to make contact with any local craftsman that still practice the old building techniques. We then analyzed all the information we gathered and set up a series of public exhibitions and lectures.

Part of my contribution was to synthesize and illustrate graphically the historical evolution of the typical Strandzhan house and then to present it briefly to the public during the various lectures.

Here’s a short trailer for the initial phase of the field study, created by fellow architect Stefan Stoyanov.

The eerie magic of border villages reigns supreme in Slivarovo.
The church, resting among age-old oak trees, is under the constant watch of a nearby guard tower. It is just the houses that prove the skills of the old craftsmen. There are 6 inhabitants and almost twice as many chapels.
Slivarovo has been deserted once in 1903 during the culling of the Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising, and a second time in 1945, when it fell within the 10km restricted zone near the border. The setting of the borderline litterally cut the village in two, leaving all the lands accross the Rezovska river in Turkey.

While this imposed isolation has condemned the village to a timelessness close to a state of oblivion, it has also protected the authenticity of most surviving buildings. Today, Slivarovo shelters many of the best-preserved examples of Strandzhan houses from the Revival period. 

Although they lost their inhabitants, the old houses still have many stories to tell...Аnd they long for craftsmen wielding the old techniques.