Armenia is home to a distinctive architecture style that beautifully exemplifies builders’ response to their environment.
The region’s geology posed challenges – yet provided the material that would enable early builders to meet those challenges. Despite being in an active seismic zone, Armenian buildings are almost entire masonry, built from sedimentary tufa. Tufa bonds very well with the concrete-like mixture they used, consisting of broken tufa, stones of various sizes, lime mortar, and usually eggs.
In construction, an inner core of the concrete was faced with carefully cut pieces of slabs of tufa, which adhered permanently to the concrete mixture as it hardened over time. Techniques such as beveling the slabs and varying their placement and thickness allowed the buildings to withstand the lateral forces of earthquakes. The stone used in buildings is typically quarried all at the same location, in order to give the structure a uniform color. Intentional use of different colors resulted in brilliant patterns. Other decoration includes frescos and ornate carving.
These decorative features reflected the styles of outside influences through the ages. While Armenian architecture is primarily seen in its churches, many of Armenia’s secular buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries do remain. There are stunning examples of Belle Époque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Soviet style buildings. In particular there are small pockets of these buildings along Astafian Street in Yerevan and in the Kumayri Historic District where, in June, AiP volunteers will be helping restore a building damaged – but not destroyed – in the 1988 earthquake that rocked the country.Heritage (and other) Help for Haiti
Earthquakes are front and center this month. AiP is a non-profit and, because of our focus on using preservation to build a sustainable future, we probably follow what is happening in developing world more than the average preservation organization.
The earthquake in Haiti is just the latest of a series of disasters that have devastated poor countries recently. Our workshop in Armenia is delivering assistance more than 20 years after the earthquake there, demonstrating the importance of long term planning when envisioning the future for Haiti, Indonesia, and the many other countries so badly impacted.
We would like to encourage you to support relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. Architecture for Humanity and Partners in Health are two of the many organizations providing both short-term and long-term relief.
With respect to heritage, ICCROM reports that a joint mission is underway to evaluate the damage and generate a long-term strategy for the salvage, recovery and conservation of Haiti’s cultural heritage and identity. There is increasing concern regarding the looting and illicit traffic of cultural objects.
People interested in volunteering can work with the International Committee of the Blue Shield, which is actively recruiting team members.
Internship Opportunities at the National Park Service
Applications are invited for Summer 2010 internships with the National Park Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior. For information see www.nps.gov. The application deadline is February 26, 2010.Conference Calendar
Glass & Glazing in the 21st Century: Design & Preservation of Contemporary & Historic Architecture - March 20-21, 2010 - Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
This seminar addresses the question of how the vernacular responds when people move to new places and whether global markets are a threat to the vernacular expression. Fittingly, the seminar will be held in the Finnskogen area in Norway and Sweden which has been intensively studied because of its exceptional history, vernacular heritage and traditions that can be traced back to the origin of the settlers from Finland.This conference/training program will focus on developments in architectural glasses for structural, energy saving, and decorative uses in new building facades/building envelopes and monuments, as well as their application in the restoration and upgrading of existing structures. For information, see ciav.icomos.org.
The meeting follows CIAV VERNADOC 2010, “documentation camp” which will have up to 15 people measuring and drawing the church of Östmark (1765).
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