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HArchitHeC Report Summary

Project ID: 705499
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HArchitHeC (House Architecture and Heritage in modern Crete)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2018-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

HArchitHeC project focuses on rural and urban houses on the island of Crete (16th-18th centuries) through an interdisciplinary innovative approach relying on both material evidence and traditional sources. Its main goal is to study how the evolution and interaction of Venetian and Ottoman models built up a hybrid architecture in a colonial dimension and how they contributed to create the Cretan historic landscape.
The period of Venetian rule represents a major element for Cretan history: starting from middle age, Venice had taken control of the Balkans, Methoni and Coron, the Ionian and Aegean islands, and Crete as a colonial empire (the Stato da Mar). In the 16th century, socio-economic and built structures were fully developed on the island. In the following century, the Ottomans imposed their power on Crete and the other lands.
The Cretan house architecture dating to the Venetian period is today quite neglected: it is more scattered and less protected, compared to religious or military monuments. If in towns some traces are blend with recent edifices, the more remarkable remains are in the villages and the countryside, mostly consisting of inhabited or abandoned private houses, often in poor condition or ruined, when they are not used as quarries for new buildings. Therefore, a specific research on material and written sources to retrace the history of urban and rural houses is needed as a starting point to study the culture history of Crete. HArchitHeC project will study the involved cultural models starting from the places of the transfer: houses as the result of the interaction between landscape and society, and houses as prior elements to build up the urban fabric. Such a pilot project aspires to a wider comparative study between Crete and the nearby regions, starting with other Mediterranean islands (Rhodes and Cyprus at first). The study of Crete will also involve additional arguments on insularity as an important analytical tool in social studies: the overall goal of HArchitHeC is to explore those regions and heritage as analytical categories needing further elaboration.
Three main objectives were identified, that is to study:
1) Relations between houses, landscape and society. Venetian and Ottoman houses coexisted with Byzantine landscape structures, mostly villages and fortified settlements, especially in rural areas. How were houses adapted to the landscape? How did people shape the domestic space? What happened after the conflicts and natural disasters having affected Crete over the time? The project aims to perceive the built space in its materiality and historical evolution.
2) The adaptation of cultural models. The study of relations between Cretan and Venetian architectural models is rare, if we exclude some ancient works based on too few case studies. How were Venetian models reinterpreted? Can we identify different types or local variations? HArchitHeC will focus on the transfer of Venetian models to Crete and their adaptation to local skills, techniques and materials. It will track changes dating to the early Ottoman period, where they are still visible in the Venetian houses.
3) Strategies to recognise and protect built heritage. Because of the claim of Greek Antiquity, Venetian and Ottoman edifices were perceived as foreigner until the mid-20th century. However, a real recognition of Venetian and Ottoman cultural identity is today far from being achieved. Through focusing on everyday-life buildings, HArchitHeC intends to raise the awareness of the actors and a public action of recognition, in view of heritage enhancement.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project objectives for the reported period concern the following work packages included in the Grant Agreement: Training activities (WP2), Data collection (WP3), Data analysis (WP4), Outreach activities (WP6) and Dissemination activities (WP7).
Concerning the work performed since the beginning of the project, the results achieved so far as well as the deviations from the project objectives are explained according to each work package for the reported period (WP). It is to be noticed that the fellowship has been interrupted because the researcher obtained a three-years research contract; therefore, a part of the expected results and some of the activities planned for the next period cannot be achieved according to the Gantt Chart.
– Training activities (WP2): The researcher carried out training activities in G.I.S., computer technologies for surveys and relational databases, which were first planned for the next period. She learned using ESRI ArcGIS software to create a georeferenced plan of Crete with the place names associated to the previously inventoried buildings, where to put new evidences on roads networks, villages and mansions. She was also trained in creating a first relational database with Microsoft Access software, in view of connecting qualitative and quantitative data to be extracted from sources. She started a training activity in photogrammetry for architectural surveys.
– Data collection (WP3): A first mission on the field allowed to identify three possible buildings to be surveyed, but the persisting bad weather during the researcher’s first long stay on Crete prevented her from organising survey missions. As for the written sources, instead, the researcher carried out the more extensive work until April 2017.
– Data analysis (WP4): the data processing was planned to be achieved from April to August 2017 but had to be reported because of the prolonged research activity in Venice. The researcher has started transcribing Venetian documents.
– Outreach activities (WP6): The researcher was invited speaker at the Transregional Academy “De-Framing the Mediterranean from the 21st century: Places, Routes, Actors” organised by the Host Institution, the Max Weber Stiftung and the Centre Marc Bloch (19th-29th September 2016, Rethymno, Crete). She gave a lecture in-situ as well as a public speech during a cultural trip.
– Dissemination activities (WP7): The researcher mostly contributed to make the results of her work public through an official presentation at the Host Institution, as well as an international conference with publication of proceedings.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

A progress beyond the state of the art after the first period of the fellowship was mostly possible thanks to the extensive archival research in Venice. It is expected to give a new insight on the features of residential architecture and the urban fabric of the main towns of Candia and Rethymno, as well as on the network of villages around Candia:
– New considerations will be available on property transactions, names of owners, builders and workers, through the examination of notarial acts over two centuries.
– It will be possible to study a sample of rural casali.
– A more exhaustive comparison between written and material sources will to have a more advanced inventory of houses and their typologies.
– Working on the unpublished cadastre will make possible a unique comparison between the urban fabric of 14th-century and 16th-century Candia.
– A new knowledge about Venetian villages and mansions as well as Ottoman transformations is thus expected to give a crucial impact to the advancement of research in Mediterranean culture history.
The research results are also expected to have a social impact, that is to give a new and fresh contribution to a significant part of Cretan historic identity through a deep study of its minor built heritage.

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