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Training-education Center for Improving the Preservation and Better Interpretation of Heritage in Banská Štiavnica - a World Heritage City

Training-education Center for Improving the Preservation and Better Interpretation of Heritage in Banská Štiavnica - a World Heritage City

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US/ICOMOS International SymposiumKatarína Vošková, Architect-conservationist; ICOMOS Slovakia___________________________________________________________________________
Training-education Center for
Improving the Preservation andBetter Interpretation of Heritage in Banská Štiavnica - a World Heritage City
Banská Štiavnica – History and Values
The historical city of Banská Štiavnica, together with the technical mining monumentslocated in its vicinity, was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.
Why doesthis seemingly obscure little mountain town merit such attention? One of the articles of myAmerican colleague Elizabeth Yenchko who lived for 10 years in Banská Štiavnica helped meto give a short intersection of its history and signification:
“…Banská Štiavnica is situated in the middle of the volcanic Štiavnica hills, accesed only by secondary roads and a spur rail line. With an elevation of 600 meters above sea level,the town is spread along two narrow valleys which intersect just below the main square; folk rchitecture houses climb up the sides of the steep slopes which tower above the historiccenter. Landscape area around the settlement provide a striking contrast to the fabulouswealth of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture crowded together inthe converging valleys below…During the course of the 13
to 19
centuries, the BanskáŠtiavnica ore fields were among the most prolific producers of gold and silver in Europe.…The town was the European focus of mining education, science, and technology. Manytechnological inventions and concepts developed in Štiavnica during that period weresubsequently used all over the world…“
Deterioration During Last 50 Years, Comparing with Western European Countries andPresent Situation
The historic centre of the city has survived virtually unchanged despite the fact that thecontinuity of history has been broken over last 50 years. The ownership has been changed,inhabitants of the historic centre were removed… New “development programmes” wereadopted to restore and rejuvenate the historic fabric for the lifeless use.Nowadays the city continues to struggle with the poor physical condition of many of itshistorical buildings. The problem comes as a consequence of the deep changes in the social-economic structure of he town that occurred over the last decades. All the built traditions andskills were damaged, even small businesses of craftsmanship were stopped. The relationshipof the city’s inhabitants to their cultural heritage shows a lack of community consciousnesstowards the importance of safeguarding this irreplaceable treasure. The current state of thebuilt heritage in Slovakia is at a great extent the result of the trends that influenced thecountry’s history, in particular the history of its last years when it was under communistruling. During this period:-
maintenance work on historic buildings was often discouraged;-
preference was given to reconstruction rather then conservation of historic buildings,thus resulting in serious damages to authentic works of arts and crafts (e.g. ceilings,floors, doors, windows);-
training of craftsmen was mainly focused on the use of modern technologies andmaterials;
traditional craftsmanship focused mainly on high level education of restorers, mid-level craftsmanship in conservation field was lost and forgotten;-
the skills and knowledge needed to handle traditional materials, techniques andtechnologies were in many cases forgotten.In spite of the general and Europe-wide spread pressure of the new artificial materialsand unappropriate technologies in built heritage conservation field, the western Europeancountries – where continuity of its history, relation to ownership, craftsmanship, traditionswere saved – shows consciousness to the necessity to encourage the owners towards thetraditional materials, technologies, crafts and offers well-skilled crafts-persons. Trainingcentres were established for example: in Tierhaupten, Germany; in Mauerbach, Austria; inAmay, Belgium; etc.
ICOMOS Slovakia Adoption of “Banská Štiavnica Appeal on Materials, Techniques andTechnologies in the Preservation of the Built Heritage”
The present situation in Banská Štiavnica threatens the safeguarding of the originalfabric of the historical buildings, many of which begin to loose much of their intrinsic valuebecause of poorly executed restoration work, incompatible use of some heavily advertisednew building materials and unappropriate new technologies. Therefore the situation called forthe immediate adoption of suitable measures to build awareness and sensitivity amongcommunity members. The local civic association (Association for Banská Štiavnica ’91)together with ICOMOS Slovakia, the Regional Office for Monuments and Sites Preservationin Banská Štiavnica and with Architectural Faculty of the Slovak University of Technologyorganized 1st international expert´s workshop and training centers exchange program in May2002 in the effort to educate and train mid-level crafts-persons as well as the wide public in anappropriate use of materials and techniques in built heritage conservation.ICOMOS Slovakia, experts from Banská Štiavnica together with the internationaly reknownexperts articulated the needs for improving the heritage preservation and then interpretation attheir first meeting on
“Banská Štiavnica Appeal on Materials, Techniques and Technologiesin the Preservation of the Built Heritage”.
“The Appeal”
recognizing the ICOMOS charters as well as the Slovak law for heritageprotection and better interpretation recommended to Slovak authorities e.g. following:
“…the establishment of the
 training-education center
in Banská Štiavnica to provide trainingwith appropriate certification for mid-level crafts-persons and technicians; as well as advise property owners,... the encouraging and advising property owners to request the support of qualified crafts- persons and skilled technicians, seeking the advice and coordination of a competent conservation architects,…the building a documentation and information center designed to support training activitiesby means of setting up archives of historic building material, by recuparating and exhibiting physical examples of traditional techniques,..... the encouraging collaboration between the training centres in different countries, and theorganization of joint projects,…“
Training Activities – As the Effort To the Better Interpretation of Cultural Heritage
From the beginning of the year 2000 many institutions and schools in BanskáŠtiavnica strive to contribute to the continuous maintenance, protection, presentation, and thisway to appropriate interpretation of the heritage of this small world heritage site. Local High
Schools have established new courses for craftsmanship, Faculty of Architecture (SlovakUniversity of Technology) has opened their detached studios in the city centre, RegionalOffice for Monuments Preservation resides there, many of the schools are the members of UNESCO programmes towards the cultural and natural heritage awareness.These institutions together – under the leading of the Regional Office for MonumentsPreservation and the local civic association (Association for Banská Štiavnica ’91) has beenorganizing several courses:
“Materials, Techniques and Technologies in the Preservation in Built Heritage”, May2002 – when the participants had an opportunity not only to disscuss theoreticalissues, confront their knowledg and experience, learn about the use of new andtraditional materials and techniques, but also an international team of craftsmen had an opportunity to demonstrate the using of the adequate techniques on 4 in situ sites of restoration works, that were performed to the public as well as the conservationists,architects, owners… These on-site courses were focused on treatment of plaster/render, wooden elements and timber structures, stone walls.
“Remeselnícka 5 (the Craftsmen’s street No 5) - Historic Facade PlasterConservation”, October 2003 – in cooperation with the Austrian Training center inMauerbach (which was established by the State Office for Monumets Preservation as atraining cetrer for craftsmen) the local cratsmen and students of the S. MikoviniPolytechnical High school were practically trained in the consolidation andconservation works on the concrete historic facade in the historic area, the knowledgeof the participants was extended concerning the importance of  the researches and diagnostics and other relevant issues.
Training activities with students of the Faculty Architecture, annualy several groups –under the leadership of the experts and professors the documentation of  historical architectural details in the city is performed by the students – in strive to train thefuture architects to preserve the historical architectural values as well as systematicallycomplete documentation of historic authentic details in the city.
Training activities with the students of the architectural conservation program at the S.Mikovini Polytechnical High School – every year the practice is provide to students onthe concrete places – where students practically realise for example: the stuccoelements, plaster conservation, stuccolustro techniques, etc.
Future Vision
Next training course “Lime and Lime Technologies” for the craftsmen from practise aswell as for the students is being prepared for the September 2005 in Banská Štiavnica. Two-weeks course should give an opportunity for wider audience to participate through theaccompanying activities – like a lime burning, evening presentations of internationallyreknown experts, 3-days of theoretical presentations – in a language understandable not onlyfor craftsmen but also for other stakeholders.Considering all the present activities we have a strong effort to establish,in a nearfuture, the Training and Documentation Centre for crafts-persons and relevant students and,by a system of courses, to introduce a revival of using traditional materials amongprofessionals in heritage conservation, to improve the knowledge and skills among craftsmen.Besides the training of craftsmen,the training center has an ambition to increase theawareness of the residents of Slovakia, to emphasize the importance of their cultural heritageand necessity to preserve the authenticity and integrity of the site, to increase theunderstanding of these issues by politicians and local authorities, decision-makers and all theother stakeholders. The long term goal is, by an appropriate interpretation of architectural

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