CONCEPT : Rehabilitation project of Zall tekke, Gjirokastër

CONCEPT : Rehabilitation project of Zall tekke, Gjirokastër


  1. The study of literature upon tekke typology, collective lifestyle of Sufis, Bektashis and their principles that have generated this architecture. From the literature that this study is based it stands out Raymond Lifchez book: “The Dervish Lodge: Architecture, Art, and Sufism in Ottoman Turkey” which is a collection of essays from different authors that describe different aspects of this topic. This book has been more than a source of information, it has been also a source of inspiration to deepen the research. The conclusions of study are illustrated in 5 study cases.
  2. The study of literature of tekkes in Albania, and also site surveys of different cases have helped to understand the lifestyle in a tekke, functions and the context when they were built. This analysis also shows the problems that these facilities are faced today. The conclusions of the study influence the actions that should be taken and also draws some “borders” in the interventions that can harm this heritage. These conclusions are ilutrated by 4 study cases,
  3. The analysis of the Zall Tekke history, that starts with data collection and studies that are written by different authors which are mentioned chronologically: E. Çelebi, F.W. Hasluck, M. Kiel, and M. Tutuncu. Furthermore, graphic documents, data from national and local institutions and records from community were also collected. This analysis gives the possibility to create a timeline that the lifetime of this tekke is shown.
  4. Urban scale analysis, shows the needs that tekke does have in relation with the town and vice versa, it also shows the changes that area around tekke had since its foundation until nowadays. The urban scale proposal is based in the conclusions of this analysis.
  5. Archaeology of architecture, it is the analytical process that takes under consideration the physical changes, building materials and the lifestyle in different phases of the life of the building. This process starts with site survey in which different methods were used: topographical survey with totalstation of the buildings on the perimeter, photogrammetric survey of the facades and classical survey of the buildings on the inside. To make a complete comparison of building condition over the years, it was needed to verify the old survey of 1963 on site. To create a full stratification of different phases the ortophotos from ASIG in different years were also used as reference. The changes of lifestyle from one period to another are reflected in existing conditions and the interventions that are done. The proposal adapts program in historical buildings and improves its functions. The architectural scale proposal is based on the conclusions of this analysis.

Urban scale concept

228 cypress trees are placed according to a orthogonal grid as a continuation of the urban grid. Buildings designed during socialism are taken into consideration because they have the potential to be a reference to new developments and are the highest objects. The tree block rises as a response to the urban sprawl in nature, becoming a visual border. This placement gives the possibility of perception of the tekke’s buildings as part of a single organism.

It used to be separated from the town, but today it is part of the urban area, so it is “visually disconnected” again from the rest of the town, improving the spiritual experience of visitors and recalling the isolation of the Sufis. The height of the cypresses decreases gradually from North to South so the building will receive sunlight.

– The existing trees are preserved.
-The intervention in the pavements include the conservation of old retaining walls, stairs and cobblestone.
-The same material will be used in new pavements and it is also used for stratification of historical memory (buildings that are demolished in 2008 will be marked in the new pavement).
-It is proposed to provide access for the disabled people in different levels by the construction of sloped ramps.
-The access of fire engine is provided in every square.

Architectural scale concept

The facades of Gjirokastra houses, are divided esthetically in three layers, the first one is on the level of the ground floor, which is always with stone masonry, the second is the level of the upper floor, that is plastered on three sides (except the back side) and the last one is the stony roof  level. Taking into consideration that these “esthetical levels” will be present after the restoration, they are reflected in new buildings, to give a special importance to these unique character. For the new masonries the same stone is going to be used (flish stone) but carved in a different way.



Oxford Islamic Studies:

Turkish term for Sufi residence, hospice, or lodge. Typically a building where Sufi activities, such as teaching, rituals, and worship, occur. The head of the order may live there.

(Esposito, 2018)


Sufism or we can refer as mystic Islam, it is a movement inside the Islamic world, that is characterized by its unique values, rituals, doctrine and institutions. Sufism has some special methods of refining spiritual psychology that are not found in other civilizations. Sufism generates its own collective life. The characteristics of devotion in Sufism include dhikr (zikir), the ceremony of remembrance and repetition of God’s name; collective life in khanaqa (hanekah), zaëiya (zaviye), ose tekke (teqe) where Sufi leaders live with their followers and are visited by believers. They form a network of masters and followers that are called tariqas or fraternity. Sufis are organized in different lines which are derived from the names of saints or famous leaders. In sacred places or in the tombs of Sufi leaders, usually the day of their death is celebrated and people gather for intercession with God.

(I.M. Lapidus,1988)


BEKTĀŠĪYA, a syncretic and heterodox Sufi order, found principally in Anatolia and the Balkans, with offshoots in other regions, named after Ḥājī Bektāš and regarding him as its founding elder (pīr). Generally the order was known in Turkish as ṭarīqat-e Bektāšīya, but at a fairly late date the Bektāšīs began calling their order ṭarīq-e nāzanīn (the delicate path). This designation was probably invented as a kind of password among the Bektāšīs after Sultan Maḥmūd II’s proscription of the order in 1826.

(Encyclopedia Iranica)

Master Graduation project by Enea Serjani   at FAU (Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism )  under the supervision of  Prof. Florian Nepravishta.

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