Conservation of rural architectural heritage as part of historic rural landscapes: principles and strategies for Zeytinliköy-Agios Theodoros (Gökçeada)

Çolak, Merve
Interactions between traditional rural architecture, the natural environment surrounding it, and the socio-cultural characteristics of the local community using it have all long been debated in terms of the conservation of cultural heritage. However, understanding the human beings and nature, and the tangible and intangible values that emerge as a result of interactions between them as a whole, within the concept of the ‘historical rural landscape’, have become a current issue as a consequence of the incorporation of the term ‘cultural landscape’ into the field of conservation after the 1990s. This approach enables us to define site-specific characteristics that constitute the identity of a place, and to develop sustainable and integrated conservation approaches in this context. In the northeastern Aegean Sea, and close to the entrance to the Dardanelles, Turkey’s largest island, Gökçeada (Imbros), is an important historical rural landscape area, with its own traditional rural settlements (Rum villages), and extensive natural and archeological sites. In addition, each of the villages on the island constitutes an historic rural landscape area in itself, with their permanent settlement areas, fertile agricultural land and pasture areas, seasonal dam settlements, chapels, and windmills. However, Gökçeada has witnessed certain threats over recent years. Along with physical and geographical factors, socio-cultural transformations have also shaped the settlement characteristics of Gökçeada’s villages. One of these villages, Zeytinliköy (Agios Theodoros), is selected as a case study on account of its rich historical rural landscape values. Moreover, Zeytinliköy is exposed to the risk of physical and socio-cultural transformation due to the rapid increase in its touristic popularity. Combined with the legal challenges regarding the conservation of rural areas, and conservation approaches focusing only on the built environment, these threats may result in the irreversible destruction of the rural fabric in the near future. As a result of this destruction, the village runs the risk of becoming a touristic attraction, without rural identity or collective memory, rather than continuing as a living, thriving environment. In this context, this study aims to develop site-specific analyses and determine the main principles and strategies for the integrated conservation of an historic rural landscape – Zeytinliköy-Gökçeada – together with its built and natural environment, and local inhabitants. To determine the main principles and strategies for the conservation of Zeytinliköy, this study is based upon principles defined by the relevant international documents as the main guiding objectives, together with a value-threat-opportunity assessment of the site.


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Citation Formats
M. Çolak, “Conservation of rural architectural heritage as part of historic rural landscapes: principles and strategies for Zeytinliköy-Agios Theodoros (Gökçeada),” Thesis (M.Arch.) -- Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences. Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Architecture., Middle East Technical University, 2019.