We started another European project a few weeks ago, it’s about old houses. Everyone who knows me probably smiles now, because I love old houses!
This is one reason why we, Isabell and me, wrote a project proposal and applied for funding. Another reason is, that old houses are witnesses of our culture, of our identity, but in our world they are outnumbered, often not respected, going to be destroyed to make place for modern houses.
In some countries, mostly in not so developed ones, a new house is also often a status symbol.
Also, in not so few countries you will rather receive a loan for building/buying a new house than buying/restoring an old one.
In developed, richer western countries, old houses are becoming more and more a luxury good. Travelling around the world, you will find outstanding old houses, renovated by every trick in the book.
More often you will find old houses renovated to dead (you can’t even imagine that the house is 100 years old) or went to rack. People who still live in such houses, laugh about people like me, who appreciate this old stuff. They are just waiting for the houses to collapse to build a new one on that spot.
The reason is often that people just do not know how to restore by using old techniques and materials. The old handcrafts are declining, less people are asking for these services.
It’s a bit ironic. Most people wish to find something different, something typical when we travel, and people looking for such “authentic” places and services are not few.
In our project we are going to record the complex history of old houses, the architecture, the construction, the social history (who built it and who lived in that house), the used materials. As seven European countries are involved, we will start building a database of vernacular architecture. And most interestingly, we will include experts to explain how to use “old” materials and learn old techniques. Maybe in that way we can preserve these handcrafts, help people to think more about their living environment and get deeper into their history.
And last but not least, we want to develop a sense of taste while building and living.