Author: арх. Анна Енчева

The architectural heritage of Southern Dobrudzha Part 2: About man, architecture and the environment


- preservation
- habitation
- work
- interaction
- emotional and aesthetic experience

     In nature conditions for physical protection exist. Man can find shelter from the wind, rain and snow in a cave. In the cave he can light a fire to cook food, sleep, and even manifest his creative talents. When attacked by predators (and malicious people) he can climb a tree or a rock. Like a thousand years ago, today these conditions will undoubtedly create strong emotions. And yet - men began to build.
It is interesting that in nature there are other "builders". The example of the bee is a classic one, but it is not the only one. Birds build nests, otters build barrages, beavers raise dams, and moles dig tunnels because construction is an instinct of living organisms. And, like any instinctive activity, it is necessary, functional, strong and, in many cases - even beautiful. In humans, this instinct has become intuition, manifesting even in childhood. The first objects of play for children are houses - assembled or painted. In adulthood, intuition is combined with reason and is supplemented by knowledge - practical and theoretical.

                   Living in the open                                                   Shelter 
                    Mobile home                                        Megapolis (termite-hill – museum exhibit) 

     If we look inside the plant and animal organisms, we see that they are built according to four basic principles - necessity, utility, durability and beauty. The snail shell, the network of a spider’s web, a bird's wing, the stem of the wheat-ear, the roots and crown of the tree, the leaves and the flower of the lily prove it.
     Without any doubt, the Creator, whoever He may be, is very wise. And when we follow His example, we never err.

Attitude towards nature:
- getting to know and using natural resources and forms
- no disruption of the natural balance
- preservation and restoration of nature

     In order to consciously build their first dwellings men used materials and forms from the surrounding environment. At the beginning – as they were, without altering or processing them. After that they began to split stones, hew wood and give shape to clay. For millennia, the artificial structures created by them have been inseparably connected to this environment, without harming it.

  Tent (yurt) – museum exhibit                             Dugout  
     The natural science museum in Vienna has an interesting exhibit – a yurt with a construction of giant bones of prehistoric animals, coated with animal skin. Maybe it looked exactly like this. 

     A yurt is a dismountable home, but this does not prevent it from being luxurious. The chronicles say that the yurts of nomadic rulers were built of wood, blankets and silk, decorated with precious metals. The yurt of Genghis Khan had poles of gold in its construction.
    At Pliska, next to the remains of Krum's palace, remnants of yurts have been found (possibly of the holes dug for their bearing structures). And near Devnya, Varna province, a model of a yurt was found, carved in soft rock.

      Adobe building –                      Stone building –               Building with wooden framework 
house in the district of Riltsi,   barn in the village of Krasen, 
      town of Dobrich                  Gen. Toshevo municipality 
     Buildings of clay, stone and wood are part of the environment and do not need to be recycled. 
     With the beginning of the industrial revolution began the disruption of the balance in the interaction between man and nature. In the past 20th c. the negative effect of human activity on the soil, air, water, and finally – on the life of the planet, exploded. At the same time, we began to realize the danger. 

     I hope that we are going to learn to combine natural and human laws and restore the balance, before it becomes too late.

Inevitable dependence man-building-settlement-environment

The lessons of old builders:
- location
- orientation
- appropriateness
- comfort
- human scale
- sturdiness
- decoration

     The spaciousness and relief of Dobruja do not pose problems in finding a suitable site for construction. It is flat and sunny everywhere. You need to select a dry area with a slight slope for rainwater drainage, with a stable ground base.
     The yards in the villages are large, without high fences. The houses are far apart, surrounded by gardens and trees. The backs of the buildings are turned to the north, the entrances and windows facing south. Between the "outside" and "inside" there is a transition - a covered area along the length of the building, in the middle or in the corner (porch). The rooms are arranged around it. At least one of its sides has no wall, and it does not occur to anyone to glaze it.
     The rooms are small in size. No extravagance, no unnecessary space, no corridors. The house usually has one entrance - the room with the fireplace. You enter the rest of the rooms from it.


     Economy is a fundamental principle. The hearth gives warmth, but it is used to prepare the food as well. Its heat is used for the contiguous room. The room with the fireplace is the center, it is multifunctional. Besides being economical, there is another side – this way the family lived in a community.
     In the construction process human measurements were applied – step, foot, arm, span. For this reasons the buildings are of the right size in the literal sense.
     The foundations are the most important element for the safety of the building. Placing the corner stone was the most important thing and was performed by the master builder, accompanied by a ritual. Without making complex calculations, builders knew how thick the walls were, the size and wood type of the beams, how to assemble them and how to connect them. When they paid attention to detail, the columns and chapiters were decorated with carvings. And when the roof was finished and the walls were whitewashed it was time to apply the colorful paints - not only on the walls, but also on wood. This latter seems a bit too much.
     The houses in Dobruja are stably positioned on the ground. Usually, they have one storey and for this reason it is as if they are a part of the plane. On all sides – the horizon.

“Eco” - the unnecessary prefix

     I am not saying that we have forgotten or denied the experience of the old builders, and of those of the recent past. Each book begins with history and lists rules tested throughout the years which we must observe. When we break them, nature turns against us.
     What is happening? The cities we live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the clothes we wear turn out to be harmful to our health? An in order for us to feel good all these things must be called “eco-“.
     In the past there was no problem with the natural sunlight and lighting – the buildings always faced south. Before, there were no problems with overheating, cooling and ventilation – the eves cast a shade over the windows, the cellars preserved the products, the orientation and size of the holes ensured the natural movement of the air in the rooms. In order to prevent the loss of heat through the walls, the clay for the adobe was mixed with straw.
     Therefore, to guarantee themselves the necessary life conditions, our ancestors applied passive methods. Now we spend energy.
     In the past, there were no landfills. In the household a “deep processing” of raw materials was performed and everything was put to use – the skins, bones, horns, wool and dung of the animals, the stems, leaves, bark and bast of the plants; everything was obtained from the environment and returned to it. Whenever possible, it was reused again and again. Now, we conduct campaigns to convince each other to do this.

     There are many examples supporting the idea that the creators of modern architecture did not cross out the experience of former builders. Without dismissing modern methods and technologies, they manage to find balance between innovation and tradition.
     I do not believe that we need to create new words in our vocabulary: “eco settlements”, “eco buildings”, “eco paths” and such. Simply, the settlements, buildings and paths need to be made in such a manner as to not cause harm to man or the environment.

     This is not just a matter of functionality of building or of numbers – indicators of density and intensity.

                          Kavarna                                                                Balchik 
         Construction – still acceptable.                      The white cliffs will not be visible anymore.

Here we are talking about the landscape as well.

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