top of page

Landscape Heritage Protection

„It is impossible to understand the present of a landscape, village, community,

without understanding it's past. (Pál Szabó )

Building baths is just one way of contributing - in our own way - to the subsistence of our heritage hidden in the features of the Hungarian landscape. During the preparations of kalákas, when visiting the locations of potential bathing places, the beauty of nature and the landscape of the villages and their surroundings is revealed to us, we become familiar with their architectural and cultural heritage, their late and still living traditions. The initial amazement is followed by dialogue, and during the months of collaboration with the local people ideas are born concerning the heritage and future of the villages. Local people usually welcome and accept our professional approach and the opinion of an external observer. This way, the past few years, we could successfully collaborate on the research of the landscape heritage of several villages.

Our Foundation, along with the Károly Kós Foundation and the Országépítő Károly Kós Union submitted tenders to the continual funder of kalákas, the National Culture Fund’s Board of Architecture (NKA) for us to be able to produce the heritage protection strategies of the villages. The work is done by interns in landscape architecture, and the ’wayfarer architects’ of the Károly Kós Union who also participate in kalákas, and it is led by the enthusiastic landscape architects of Pagony Landscape and Garden Design Studio. Thanks to the support, so far we have been able to bring out booklets of landscape heritage protection for the settlements Csíkszépvíz, Zalánpata, Kisbacon, and Bölön.

The Aim of Landscape Surveys, and Villagescape and Landscape Heritage Protection

The Sekler landscape usage – that developed in conjunction with the structure of villages, usage of land plots, architecture and craft culture – nowadays shows the symptoms of the degradation of this heritage. The root of this change is in the mental state of today’s world. The disappearance of tradition and lifestyle that is linked to landscape and the splitting up of communities to individuals is caused by the effects of global economic culture. The system that is based on consumption and economic growth takes aim at individuals, and propagates the idea of cosmopolitanism. Through media and the global economic system it can reach every corner of the world, and exert influence trough human consciousness. Values that were previously controlled by the community are replaced by an arbitrary interpretation of liberty by everyone building the house they like and using the land however they want. In a sense it leads to the mobilization of people, they get separated from the local ideology, landscape, and community.

Meanwhile tourism, one of the key sectors of economy seeks the values of the past, displaying these values in an authentic way and sustaining them in a life-like fashion is becoming questionable. Why? Because the conscience of the people who live in and cultivate the land changes towards their surroundings and their community, therefore slowly the last Mohicans – the elderly – are fading away.

In this situation, surveying heritage and protecting values with different methods is not enough. It is important to specify who is going to keep the inherited culture alive. We cannot return to the past, so the question is how can we protect our living heritage utilising the assets of today’s world?

The transformation of traditional Sekler land use has accelerated. Apart from this, another hindrance is that legal and other kinds of protection frameworks are not in place for preserving our landscape heritage. Usually the settlements do not have a complex inventory of their natural and landscape values, and the legal grounds of protection are also missing. Therefore, the general regulatory and development plans do not and cannot rely on analysis of landscape, green infrastructure, and heritage protection, that leads to deficiencies in the regulation of green areas in both the municipal areas and in their peripheries. Furthermore, the portion of the plans concerning landscapes - if such things are even included - are not carried out by landscape architects.

We can observe similar tendencies when we arrive to the public spaces of Sekler villages and towns from the surrounding landscape. The end of socialism brought in the Western consumer-based society model that lead to an accelerated speed of life. This change sparked serious spiritual degradation that can be seen in the material world, from the shift in the culture of craft and physical space, through the emergence of Western-style architecture, to the materials and colours used.

With our work, researching landscape heritage and creating guidelines to heritage protection, we wish to draw attention to these deficiencies, and we hope that these documents, value inventories, analysis maps, principals and directions for development can help and affect these processes in a positive way.

bottom of page