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Rehabilitation project of Zall Tekke, Gjirokastër

Rehabilitation project of Zall Tekke, Gjirokastër

In the suburbs of Gjirokastra, in the southwest there is a tekke of Bektashi tarikat. Half asphalted road to there, goes through industrial area of the town. The high cypresses of the tekke can be seen still far from the entrance. After parking the car near the waste bins, one cobblestone ally leads you to the entrance. During the walk, even though on one side you can see apartment buildings of communist era and on the other one some informal settlements and huts of Roma community, what really gets your attention is the picturesque entrance of the tekke which is covered by an archway between two turbes (tombs).

Pamja hipotetike e Teqesë së Zallit bazuar në rilevimet e vitit 1964.

Perhaps in the eyes of a believer the sacred object remains so in any way, but what I experienced during the first visit was “mess” and “chaos”. This sensation is not followed by the vernacular architecture of buildings but by the stratification of shapes, new and old constructions, the various materials used in the object, grafiato “coexists” with the stone masonry, the porcelain tiles wrap the floors on the vault, concrete slabs cover three hundred years old buildings and cobblestone is “swallowed” by concrete. This is the Zall Tekke, Gjyshata of Gjirokastër, built in 1720, one of the first tekkes in Albania.

From a general observation of the tekkes in Albania, it seems that all “suffer” from the same syndrome. Interventions in old buildings did not aim to preserve historical values, but in most cases they were transformed and sometimes even assimilated. There is still no contemporary language in the newly buildings, which are not based on the inherited values of the tekke architecture in the Albanian territories but instead are based on examples from Anatolia and the Middle East. This is due to the lack of research and study of this architecture in our country.

This rehabilitation project is based on architectural typology study and architecture archaeology of Zall Tekke. Interventions in the buildings include restoration, adaption, conservation and transformation of newly objects with a contextual approach. Proposed project keeps the existing program and extends it to revitalize the ruined objects, improves functions and adapts contemporary lifestyle in historical buildings.

Because Bektashi culture and Sufism are not born in Albania, a deeper study, beyond Albanian tekkes was needed, to clarify the origin and function of these objects. For this purpose I found support in some international studies for Sufis, Bektashis and their lodges. Between different authors stands out Raymond Lifchez.

Architecture of Albanian tekkes is still an unknown field of religious objects, so far studies on this topic have been more of a historical character than an architectural. Nevertheless, the work of authors like Sulejman Dashi, S. Kriso and J. Dhiamanti should be appreciated because they have taken important steps in to scientific research of these objects.
The studies on earlier researches, the survey of different cases and the analysis of Zall Tekke, I have been able to define some conclusions upon constructions, functions and general problems that tekkes are faced today. Proposed project considers general problems of tekkes in Albania and also specific ones of the Zall Tekke.

The best would be to deal with a restoration project but unfortunately the conditions of the objects and the transformations of them makes it impossible. The rehabilitation project except taking care of the authentic parts of the historical buildings, provides an impact to the local community so in the future they will be the protectors of this heritage.
The proposal is structured in two levels: urban scale (landscape) and architectural scale. The urban scale proposal consists in in the improvement of spiritual experience of visitors, the distant perception of tekke, stratification of historical memory and the improvement of accessibility and security of the objects.

In the architectural scale it is proposed the conservation of authentic parts, so the original pieces can be seen and the transformation of the new objects. Specifically it includes the restoration of banesa (the house of clerics), shtëpia e zjarrit (the fire house) and two turbes in the entrance as the only original object that are still preserved. It proposes the conservation of the new turbes and the reconstructed ones, the adaption of new buildings and conservation of authentic parts, adaption of haur (the old stall) and the reconstruction of the new stall outside the “green border”.

The proposal keeps the same program and adapts it with the new lifestyle in harmony with historical objects. New functions that are attached to the existing program are: parking lot, dervish graveyard with the Memorial of Karbala Martyrs, Library and the exhibition areas for Clerics and Zall Tekke history.

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

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