Sep 06 - 2017

Workshop “Adaptive Reuse” – Concept & mentorship

Adaptive reuse of historical buildings is one of the main challenges in conservation of cultural heritage. Social, economic and technological differences have caused for many of these buildings to lose their initial intended function, even though they represent high values for the society and remain to this day important for the community. Often, after it’s restoration a building will remain empty and abandoned while being subject to degradation.

“The Adaptive Reuse” Workshop aims to gather professionals, students and the community to analyse the challenges of adaptive reuse in the local context. In the Kulla of Isuf Mazrekaj, in Drenoc, for 12 days, during 25 September – 7 October 2017 this group will work on the functionalization of this structure as a guesthouse in the context of cultural tourism. The group will focus on:

  1.  Interventions for improving the environmental performance of the Kulla,
  2.  The adaptation of the interior and the yard of the Kulla,
  3. Food preparation according to the slowfood concept and
  4.  Interpretation/ Storytelling.

We invite professionals and students from the fields of architecture/civil engineering, multimedia, film/video directing, design, history, tourism, gastronomy, ecology, agronomy etc., to be part of this workshop, the first of this kind in Kosovo.

1. "Improving the environmental performance of the Kulla" - Adea Mekuli

Adea Mekuli

I am Adea Mekuli, 28 years old. I have completed my Bachelor degree in Architecture and Spatial Planning in Prishtina and my Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering: Environmental Design at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. So far, I have been more involved in the environmental performance of the public buildings of the socialist era in Kosovo. I am very enthusiastic for the opportunity to jointly with you study the environmental performance of Kula’s and to review the positive and negative attributes of these fortifications. Together, we will look at the best options to further strengthen the positive traits and minimise the negative ones through the interventions that improve the environmental performance of this structure and its auxiliary facilities and the yard.

The legacy of Kula’s as fortified residential buildings that no longer serve their initial purpose present a convenient case for adaptive reuse. As it has been proven in prior cases, these structures can be adapted for tourist accommodation due to their compatible intended functions.  Furthermore, they provide a unique travel experience, in accordance with the rapid development of cultural tourism, resulting from the increased interest in the arts, culture and history, which can be explained by demographic, economic, social and cultural changes.

Evaluation of the environmental performance and the interventions will be conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union for improving the environmental performance of touristic buildings and promotion of sustainable tourist behavior. Interventions will aim to achieve a sustainable management of the Kulla, preservation of natural and cultural resources, limiting negative impacts at tourist destinations, including the use of natural resources and waste production, reduction of energy use and environmental education for the guests.

2. "Adaptation of the interior of the Kulla and its yard" - Faton Hasani

“Let’s make Kulla Cool”

Faton Hasani

I am Faton Hasani. I am a film director, and a large portion of my life I spent working as a Motion Graphic Designer and in video montaging. But as a result of my lifelong passion for handcrafts, I’ve been ‘experimenting’ on producing elements for interior design and also remodeling indoor spaces. During my work not only did I give life to old objects, but there were cases were I would change the whole function of them e.g. once I turned a ancient wood stove into a sink. 😊

Now, I am going to be part of very important CHwB project. In here, I am going to be part of a group whose aim is to convert the Mazrekajs Kulla into a hostel. According to CHwB, the group of ‘ustallarëve’ (n. craftsmen) should keep the cultural heritage value of the building. So everything that we are going to change should respect the restauration and revitalization laws on cultural heritage buildings. But sure, other than that we’re free to dare through are innovative methods, methods that would make Kulla – Cool.

There’re going to be two weeks in Drenoc; they will be filled with a lot of work, fun and laughter, even though those three don’t usually go together; but what can you do – we ‘ustahs’ are bakes this way.

Interventions for the adaptation of the interior of the Kulla, it’s auxiliary facilities and the yard will be implemented with full social and environmental responsibility according to the concepts of adaptive reuse. Reduction, Reuse and Recycle will be the means used to realise the interventions that will increase the level of comfort and attractiveness of the Kulla as a touristic destination while improving the overall environmental performance of the structure. The interventions will be carried out with natural materials that are found in the enclosed yard, hence, the final product will depend on our joint creativity.

                   3. Slow Food - Vlera Serhati

 “Bread and salt, all from the heart”

Vlera Serhati1

I am Vlera Serhati. I am an architect, currently enrolled in a Master’s programme at the University of Prishtina. I am the winner of the second edition in ‘Heritage Space’, in the ‘Adaptive reuse’ section under Nol Binkaj’s mentorship. My idea was to give life to a cultural building. The aim of this project was to give the building the full function, the particular one that it had in the past, but through innovative methods as much as the traditional ones. Since the project was divided in three fields in order to reach its goal, you will find me now as the mentor of ‘SlowFood’ workshop. Through this workshop, our target is to get back to our roots, roots of our food, building techniques, social life as much as our naturalist views, that in the past were easily found among the people and the craftsmen of the Kulla’s. So, come and join us to plant the seeds of our culture, for once the others planted and we ate, now we are planting for others to eat.

In the past, Kullas where places where life had been held without a problem. Food, life, socializing, nature and the family economy came together and worked as a whole. “The adaptive Reuse” workshop is an experimental project trying to achieve the same full circle in our time. To achieve this aim, the project is divided in three sections: environmental performance of the Kulla including adaptation of the interior of the Kulla and the yard, Slow Food and Story Telling workshops.

SlowFood is a movement that was found on Italy, as the opposite of Fast Food. The tendency of this movement is to turn our eyes toward ‘bahçe’ (n. garden) and ‘sofra’ (n. traditional dining table). Besides this SlowFood comes as a wakeup call toward the globalism food policies. SlowFood stands as an extension of urban farming trend, it is the embodiment of urban trends and the traditional ways of cultivation and cousine. In here everybody can be a farmer, herder and a degustator. Here, food is no more only a process, it goes further in another dimension, that of a spiritual ritual where every plate tells a story, gives an emotion, tickles a sense, and where the nature and us become one again. Through SlowFood we are going to create an ensemble of the old yard (history), a resting place (comfort), a vegetable garden (economy), a picturesque view (aesthetical), a place to meet for different events (social/ cultural/ informative) and a space used reasonably so it can fit the Mazrekaj’s family needs that live near the Kulla, on their family business where their economy is based.

           4. Interpetation / Storytelling - Johan Josefsson


Photo, Johan Josefsson

My name is Johan Josefsson and I come from southern Sweden. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies, both from Uppsala University in Sweden. I also do some occasional research within the heritage field, where my focus is on the intangible aspect and interpretation of heritage. My relation to Kosovo is that I have participated in two restoration camps organized by CHwB, one in Mitrovica and one in Prishtina. I have also done an internship at the National History Museum in Tirana. To this, I also have a lot of Albanian friends in both Kosovo, Albania and Sweden.

Different phenomena, whether they are designated heritage or not, cultural or something else, have different meanings for different people depending on individual mentality, life experience and conception/perspective of life. But through a creative mind, intellectual activity and curiosity, you could put yourself into another, possibly unknown, context and see where this leads you and what values this may bring you.  The Story Telling workshop aims to be an interpretative activity around the stories behind things, places, time and space using all the senses, in order to create a spiritual, emotional and physical value to people who come in contact with them. Emphasis is placed on communication and promotion of the values of heritage in general and of the Kulla of Mazrekaj family and its surroundings in particular, built on interactive and participatory methods.

A story is not a separate entity, it is a part of interrelated events and a broader narrative, where every single story may provide values to someone else or trigger thoughts, memories and emotions. Hence, personal stories of the participants can contribute to the narrative of the Kulla. The Kulla should be further involved into a wider tourism network regarding rural and sustainable values that includes whole Dranoc, the nearby villages of Junik and Isniq and cities of Gjakova and Peja and even whole Kosovo with a potential promotion center in Prishtina for cultural and creative tourism, as well as outdoor and artistic activities.

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Workshop "Adaptive Reuse" - Concept & mentorship