Many thanks to: Nicholas Thomas Lee Spiros Filippas â€˜Drimonasâ€™ Newspaper The occupants of Drimonas
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation
tlas Registration of the vernacular character of Drimonas settlement in Lefkada, Greece
Spatial Design Perception and Detail 4th Semester Konstantinos Fetsis 150167
Supervisors: Lise Juel
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen 16th Feb. 2017
We leaned out of the window. Everything around us was one with our soul. Sulphur-pale, the clouds wind moaned in the trees with a secret turbulence, and the quick swallow went breasting across the grass. Suddenly the thunder broke, the wellhead broke, and dancing came the rain. Dust leaped into the air. We, our nostrils quivering, opened our lips to drink the earth’s heavy smell, to let it like a spring water us deep inside (the rain had already wet our thirsting faces, like the olive and the mullen). And shoulder touching shoulder, we asked: “What smell is this that cuts the air like a bee? From balsam, pine, acanthus, from osier or thyme?”
So many the scents that, breathing out, I became a lyre caressed by the breath’s profusion. and as our eyes met again all my blood sang out. I bent down to the vine, its leaves shaking, to drink and—my thoughts like heavy grapes, bramble-thick my breath— I could not, as I breathed, choose among the scents, but culled them all, and drank them as one drinks joy or sorrow I drank them all, and when I touched your waist, my blood became a nightingale, became like the running waters. *
*Angelos Sikelianos: Selected Poems (trans Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)
The Site p.3
The People p.19
The yards p.49
‘Lithies’ p. 61
The Pathways, the church and the households p. 67
This document is an action of enthusiasm to understand and register the qualities of Drimonas settlement in order to raise topics and themes for the following designing stage of the thesis project. During my journey to this topos I tried to investigate spatial qualities and social norms that depict from architectural registrations and interviews of the permanent occupants that at the moment were less than 10. Elements such as corners, thresholds, linking pathways and facades of the historic village are included in the following chapters in order to â€˜drawâ€™ the rich character of Drimonas that struggles to survive. Interviews, story-tellings, photographic material and archival investigations were found during my journey able to help me understand further this vanishing community.
The site Lefkada, or Leucas or Leucadia or Lefkas or Leukas Ancient Greek: west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a of the island and seat of the municipality is Lefkada.  It is situated on the northern part of the island, approximately 1 hour by automobile away from Aktion National Airport. The island is part of the regional unit of Lefkada.
The area of the island is about 302 square kilometres
above sea level, situated in the middle of the island. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate: hot summers and cool winters, especially in the mountains. The island is related to ancient mythology such as Sappho’s suicide at Cape Lefkada but also to other myths linking the island to the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, and to Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. German archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld, through excavations at various locations of the island, was able to obtain funding to do work on the island by suggesting that Lefkada was Homer’s Ithaca, and the palace of Odysseus was located west of Nydri on the south coast of Lefkada. There have passages in the Odyssey point to Lefkada as a possible model for Homeric Ithaca. Being located between Greece and Italy, the island presents vivid mixed cultural traces in architecture and linguistic behavior, carrying interesting
chronological and historic events such being under Venetian, Ottoman and Greek domination. The islandâ€™s population in 2011 was 22,652, mostly inhabiting the main city, but a minority in numerous mountainous villages that used to be built in between the rocky anatomy of the island, in order to be protected from the pirates in older times. The projectâ€™s site is located in the traditional village of Drimonas, part of the mountainous settlements of the island. It is one of the few rural communities that has maintained the biggest part of its original architectural character, since only few extentions and transformations have taken place the last decades. Although, it is expected to start changing the next years since the island becomes more and more popular due to the massive tourism that attracts, especially in seasonal periods. The authorities are constantly avoiding, through bureocratical skips, to recognize most of the mountainous settlements of the island, including this village, as cultural heritage. owner that wishes to renovate or make changes on an existing building that if is part of a cultural heritage recognized area. This has as a result changes to the general character of the vernacular architecture to occur. Existing cultivating plots, excavated in the rocky sporadically by the last occupants. The village is located in a steep rocky and mountainous landscape with a view to the Ionian sea. Earth tremors are common in mainland Greece and on most of the Greek islands. Greece accounts for more than half of all earthquakes registered in Europe, and quakes regularly hit the area around Lefkada. Through the last decades, the population of the village have been degreased dramatically from 159 in 1981 to 5 today, due to migration to the bigger cities, for a better life, and the inactive agriculture market in the area.
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The People During my journey to this settlement I got the chance to talk and observe the lifes of the remaining occupants of this community. 3 households, a newly comer, a at the time I arrived and agreed to talk to me and let me hear their stories. The purpose of this chapter is the aim to record and understand the main character of the decaying community that once was independently fully operated, with its own economy and behaviorology. The following pages are mostly consisted of photoportraits of the local that unfortunately can be count in great amount of photography has been also borrowed from local and foreign photographers archive, that passed through this topos during their journey. digging into the personal photographic archive of the families that welcomed me into their homes, learning about viscinity, social behaviors, spatial performances and societal qualities. All the following material draws out rich characters and their stories that represent and used to consist this community but unfortunately some of them are no longer alive. It is vital to record such stories and historic characters since this last cluster of people that are slowly fading are taking with them the last memories of this place. Irvin Yalom states ‘’ Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one’s memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy
I have been living here for my whole life. Since my wife passed away 5 years ago I have been living in this house with my brother, supported by his agricultural pension. I have been ‘in charge ‘ in the village for 8 years before. Back then when I was politically active to improve the roads so most of the infrastructures now. Through my entire life I have changed so many professions and little jobs in order to maintain myself and my family. I had a horse, and I was travelling through the whole island as a vegetable with the migration to the cities, our small economies and exchanges almost stopped. I still have tones of clothes in my basement. Now that I am an old ‘ship’, I only maintain some garden that we own around the house, just enough to maintain ourselves with the harvested goods and maybe give some wine and olive oil to my daughter and son’s families when they visit. I am also working during summer and winter in some small allotments and the olive trees, cleaning I shouldn’t be working at this age but I cannot stay inside 4 walls forever. The allotments are not enough for selling but enough to maintain ourselves. Olive oil would be the most possible to sell. In winter, it is very lonely, we keep hearing about burglars, entering the abandoned or shut summer houses. We have a dog so we feel safe and we are the only house that hasn’t been attached. We are still here despite the loneliness because we feel independent here and safe from the loud rythms of the city. Why would I be in Athens? I won’t be able to go nowhere, I would be ‘locked’ in between 4 walls. I wont be able to go out and walk or go to the cultivate and eat. Kostas 89
In spite of its immense worth, rural vernacular heritage is threatened on several fronts. Worldwide economic, cultural and architectural homogenisation of the agricultural sector is in large measure responsible for developments in the rural habitat.
â€˜I was born, raised and grew old here Nature grew old as well, along with usâ€™
Akrivoula is 72 years old. She was born, raised and grew old in this village. She still lives with her husband in the same house they got married. Despite their age they continue to maintain their routine of taking care of their cultivating gardens, using their donkey to help them carry their equipment. It is the only coupel of the village that still owns a donkey. I found them on their way home from collecting greens such as amaranth, rocket or mustard greens. They are planning to harvest tommorow potatoes they have planted in their garden. Kostas which is a neighbor helped them the next day, since he is famous for not being able to sit in a chair for more than 5 minutes. Eveyone in the village knows him as the very active and always willing to help person.
Nikos the village. He now permanently lives in the main city of the island, with his wife, half hour distance
occasions of the village these days. Initially the shop was operating daily in older periods but due to the massive depopulation of the area he only operates in summer period and when he is asked by the festivals, where everyone was participating. The inside and outside spaces were always tidy and full of people. Now it is used as a storage with a pile of furniture. to the 6 men of the village along with the priest, me some young couples arrived once two years ago willing to re-enable some abandoned agricultural the authorities. That never happened and they had to leave.
You get sad if you decide to walk through the rest of the village. The only thing you see is wide shut homes and ruins.
The most active moment here these days is our gathering after the church every other Sunday. Summer time tends to be more â€˜noisyâ€™, for three months, due to the tourists and the families of the occupants.
Dimitris, 58 years old, is originally from here but always lived in Athens. Decided to return in terms of living conditions, mostly for more ‘active’ routine and not so much for economical reasons. Working in marketing, he was in charge of an Athenian life. He has been living in the village permanently 2 years now. This year he harvested olives for the the closest village, 15 minutes away. ‘’Winter here can be tough’’. He is lucky the house he lives is in good condition but he is alone since his wife is in Athens and his daughter is in the main city of the island. The winter this time apparently was very tough but that didn’t bother him. Hi stated himself as an adaptive person and active. The village doesn’t he needs to wonder around the island to visit friends or have a glass of wine. ‘’We should expect this from young generation to establish something but we will see’’. He owns couple of animals and a chicken coop, currently waiting for some eggs to be produced and start selling or giving around the occupants of the village. Everyday has a unique day, feeding the his life here, since he chose to live here and startup goods and not money.
It takes patience to reactivate this land, but you get help and knowledge from the occupants here and after you see what you have achieved you get more courage to continue, still without any support from the authoritiesâ€™â€™.
I can escape from the city, live a more modest and less expensive life, having free vegetables, purchase in Athens.
Michalis and Popi, 80 and 72, used to live in Athens but have been living permanently here for years, enjoying the quiet life. Their main activities is agricultural household activities. They usually Athens because we wanted a quiet life, close to nature and felt nostalgic for our originated topos. Most of our cultivating gardens are located 50-100 meters awat from our house. Potatoes and olives, olive oil iare the most common goods. Winter keeps we will have a walk. Summer gets very busy, with even 200 occupants during holidays. Suddently the the year, Sunday is an mportant day for us in the Church as a gathering moment, when awe gather Sometimes we prepare a big cake to enjoy all of us cities. The interaction here can be stronger even if ’’For us the quiet life and nature help us a lot with our health.We believe we are lacking of some important during winter.These used to be provided but have number of occupants in this area. We get nostalgic back then. Now everything is empty. It was common to enter a home and see 30 people eating together. Pathways here used to be a vital interaction space. Everyone was passing by, chating from the window or sitting in the side rocks gossiping. We are more than happy to help the young people that want to return or establish something.‘’
The yards The settlement looks like has been carved inside the mountainous landscape with yards and terraces being visible from far away reaching the area by car. It was widely common a household would share a courtyard with the neighbor house, presenting great ideas of vicinity. When the occupants were reaching more vineyard terraces. The area was famous for its grape variety. Vertzami, a thick, dark-skinned grape variety could be found in every yard of the mountainous villages of Lefkada and could give a unique dark color France used to be active before the whole economy of these areas start to vanish. A yard was even back then a strong space of intergenerational interaction, where the younger comes to learn from the older the art of kneading, wine making or even the stories that used to consist this community. An exchange of generations and knowledge wasn’t something new to be expected and it was more of an organic function. A rich material of photographic generous and vibrant use of the yards, even if the space itself was modestly designed. A wine press, a vineyard and a bench were surrounding an open central space that was facilitating the ‘unexpected’ of the everyday activities. A wedding, a gossiping session, childrens teaching of arts and skills or spontaneous lunches were something common to be expected. Nowadays, the occupants that have remained, are craving to hear ‘a laugh’, a child’s shout or voices of neighbors, while facing the wide shut windows of the surrounding estates.
The area was famous for its grape variety. Vertzami a thick, dark-skinned grape variety could be found in every yard of the mountainous villages of Lefkada and could give a unique dark color to the wine. Italy and France used to be active before the whole economy of these areas start to vanish.
used to consist a human made landscape of agricultural terraces due to the mountainous landscape that was contribute to the character of the place but have been let to decay and be unused. The dry stone walls used to be the only way for maintaining the family. Back needed to be maintained by the occupants that had to â€˜climpâ€™ through the rough landscape. The whole settlement is surrounded by the emptied terraces, waiting to be reused. Infrastructures have been introduced the last decades when the villages communities from the governmentâ€™s side. The minority of the lots in the close proximity of the settlement is still maintained
year the plots that surround his yard can be seen from the top of the hill full of vegetables and vineyards.
This chapter aims to explore the main linking zones from one edge to the other of the settlement. The pathways used to connect the households with the main agricultural terraces of the area, presenting a unique spatial quality of vicinity. A pathway apart from linking part was also a gathering space, were occupants were communicating through their journey across the These pathways were organically formed through the whole mountainous landscape, passing through the main spaces of the village, connecting every household. Along paths were patiently decorated by stone carved by the topography. At the end of the chapter a registration of one of the two churches of the settlement, along with 3 traditional households have been included. The registration emphasizes on spatial qualities such as ceilings, thresholds, decorations and corners that dragged my attention through my journey. The following drawings were not included in any kind of archive so they had to be produced and measured through the site visit.
Published on Jul 4, 2017
This atlas document is part of my thesis project in KADK in 2017, a main tool of my working method in order to engage with the site and the...