The Transylvania Trust was established 10 years ago by professionals who couldn’t accept the circumstances set by society towards the .conservation of the built heritage. They wanted a sustainable frame for the conservation of historic buildings and ensembles, trying to change the value judgment which, beginning from the second part of the 20th century, started to move in the wrong direction in Transylvania. This was also the case with the built cultural heritage.

As we learned, it is a gargantuan challenge, a bold initiative. The survival instinct in itself of the financially and morally bereft inhabitants of Transylvania is insufficient to deliver sustainable built heritage management. The regeneration process is slow, slower than the disappearance of the heritage values. Without the dramatic change aspired to for 60 years now, the heritage will gradually disappear.

The Transylvanian-Romanian-society’s built heritage guardianship needs aid in all fields of built heritage conservation. Besides long term system-building and management we have to answer immediate needs, and to allow time, energy and money to the latter from the very restricted possibilities:
  • Research and documentation is needed, because just the known values can be saved;
  • Education and training is needed, because results can be achieved only in societies that know and acknowledge the value of the heritage by adequate number of highly skilled professionals. The “educated” society will support the issue, and the historic building conservationists need training;
  • The owners of the heritage values need support, to have someone to turn to with their problems;
  • The exchange of knowledge and expertise with professionals facing the same problems  from other regions is very important;
  • Last, but not the least, examples need to be set, to illustrate the  possibilities of  conservation on practical projects.
The Transylvania Trust’s main goal, the sustainable protection of the built heritage is achieved in the long term through integrated conservation projects. However, the Trust is helping wherever there is a desperate need in built heritage conservation.

1.  The Transylvanian built heritage is not documented properly. Therefore, the Trust’s research project-package entitled Basic and applied research of the built heritage is concentrating on the neglected areas. The State Assessment and Conservation of Transylvanian Mural Paintings and Painted Panelled Ceilings project is concentrating on the buildings with such outstanding artistic features. The State Assessment of the Endangered Built Heritage project is directed towards dis-used buildings or those which can not be sustained by the community; and the Vernacular Architecture Research and Protection project is trying to document the mostly diverse rural heritage lacking a sufficient economic background to sustain it. The research also analyses issues of sustainability, being finalized with a feasibility study.

2.  The goal of the Scientific events – spreading information in built heritage is to educate professional and public attitude. The scientific events address the whole sphere of historic building professionals (International Conference Series on Theoretical and Practical Issues of Built Heritage Conservation – Tuºnad) or they are addressing a more specialised group (International Conference Series on Historic Structures-Cluj). The society’s built heritage culture is addressed on a scientific level but in an easily understandable form (Transylvanian Monuments documentary booklet series or the Conservation Technology documentary leaflet series).

3.  The Professional training in built heritage conservation project addresses a number of  levels, in all cases having an accredited partner-institution (PhD Students, Centre of excellence, Postgraduate Studies, Field study project for graduate students, and the Built heritage conservation training project).

4.  The Advising on Built Heritage Conservation project is helping the owners of historic buildings in legal protection or professional issues, to maintain their inheritance, whether it is ecclesiastical, local government or privately owned heritage.

5.  The exchange projects include those with the US ICOMOS and with the Slovakian Institute for Monuments. We also participate at our partner-organizations events, as well as in scientific conferences. We have relationships with many professional bodies.

6. Integrated heritage protection projects are designed to implement the conservation strategy of the Trust, and have been awarded with many national and international awards (Grigore Ionescu Prize, Europa Nostra Medal). In these projects vernacular heritage is ensuring the sustainability of a village community (Rimetea heritage conservation project) or the Transylvanian Versailles is being revitalised through the training of professionals (Built heritage conservation training centre at Bánffy castle, Bontida), as well as providing appropriate infrastructure for postgraduate and phd training (Built Heritage research and training centre, Breaza).

Dr. Bálint Szabó