IHBC Yearboox 2018

R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 45 eager to learn, to help and to share in the spirit of internationalism. The work is hard; challenging but rewarding. Clay pits are dug and adobe mixed, timber is gathered from the forest for repairs, fallen dry stone walls are dismantled and rebuilt. The energy and enthusiasm for the tasks is overwhelming. Accommodation is provided and everyone takes a turn in preparing meals, sharing their culture through food and recipes. This approach has a number of important advantages: • the preservation of an important collection of buildings • the long-term maintenance and stewardship of the buildings • the creation of a locally trained workforce • and the legacy of the next generation of architects and conservators who appreciate and will ultimately maintain the buildings. This continuity and fostering of international relations at the student stage is particularly important because it creates a generation which is eager to engage with and advocate the vernacular and the use of traditional materials and practices. Building up a pan-European network of emerging heritage professionals encourages the ongoing sharing of information, training and experience from a broad range of cultures and perspectives. In the long term the farm will host working parties which will tend the land and maintain the buildings. Workshops will continue to be run on traditional building skills, smallholding agriculture and local crafts. Project partner the University of Architecture, Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia will continue to use the building as a research centre, exploring how traditional building materials can be used in contemporary architecture and helping to spearhead a Bulgarian conservation agenda. The village and its unique vernacular architecture will ultimately be preserved and its cultural identity strengthened and used to inspire others. The project has succeeded in highlighting the vernacular architecture of the region and, through the combined efforts of many people and organisations, has placed it in an international context while helping to secure its future. Darren Barker is the principal conservation officer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council and managing director of Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust. His background is in architecture, art and conservation. With a track record in creating viable new uses for redundant buildings and spaces he is particularly interested in community inclusion and training. He devised and leads the Devetaki Project. THE ART OF ABANDONMENT The Devetaki Project has inspired interventions in abandoned buildings across Bulgaria, Britain and Taiwan which respond to and explore the connections between art, architecture and preservation. The interventions are ad hoc, occurring naturally as conservators, artists and architects collaborate and react to abandoned spaces. The first took place in the redundant church of St John’s, Great Yarmouth. The church was full of abandoned objects – the remains of jumble sales, debris and rubbish – much of it of little consequence but all connected to previous memories and uses. Architects and conservators from Bulgaria and Yarmouth used the objects to question preservation conventions, especially what is deemed worthy of preservation. The abandoned objects symbolise everyday life, the unremarkable, that which is considered culturally worthless. In contrast, however, the project treats waste as part of our cultural identity, living as we do in a throw-away society that creates objects which quickly become obsolete. Importantly, preserving what has been discarded serves to question who decides what should be preserved. The project also sought to articulate the architectural space in which the objects have accumulated by suspending them from the vaulted ceiling. This manipulation of objects in the building allowed the architecture to be addressed rather than simply used as an exhibition space. Similarly, the project used an abandoned building in Bulgaria (above) to define depopulation and the loss of a way of life. The poignant abandoned houses echo with the lives of former inhabitants. The significance here is not only the architectural space itself but the smells, marks, memories and shadows of occupation. The narrative is powerfully enhanced by these remnants, but even without such obvious connections the space resonates with a weight of memory. Suspending the objects in one room preserves them, albeit temporarily. What was once cherished and was then abandoned now floats liberated: a photograph, a shoe, a letter from a daughter, tools used to gather corn, a century of heavy trivia. This small intervention in an abandoned building on a forgotten plateau describes depopulation, the plight of a community, a diaspora. Participants in the project exchange concepts and approaches to spaces and to the theme of preservation. These ideas are shared internationally and put into practice with an ethos of testing and experimentation and with a belief that working together in unrestricted and undefined ways can lead to new approaches. Abandoned objects suspended from the ceiling of an empty house in Karpachevo, Bulgaria