Property-management Strategy for Ensuring the Sustainable Development of the Built Heritage

11 april 2012

In Eastern Europe, even after the political changes of the last decade, the concept of sustainable development of historic properties is not widely appreciated.

 The concept involves embracing profit-making activities in tandem with voluntary work, allowing all proceeds to be directed to the repair and development of historic buildings. The goal of the project is to manage historic buildings under the auspices of the Transylvania Trust Foundation, in order to ensure their integration into the built environment, following the principles of sustainable development.

The headquarters of the Transylvania Trust is located in Cluj, in the Breaza street. We manage several buildings, which are partly our properties.

1. The Bánffy Castle in Bonŝida
The restoration of the Bánffy Castle in Bonŝida demands considerable resources. Therefore the Transylvania Trust plans to develop functions for the castle which will not be alien to its historic character, will be acceptable to the Bánffy family, and will assure the sustainable development of the site.

The owner of the castle is the daughter of the Count Miklos Banffy, Countess Katalin Banffy who lives in Morocco. In 2009 the Transylvania Trust Foundation and owner of the castle, Countess Katalin Banffy signed a Concession Agreement for 49 years, according to which the Transylvania Trust will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the castle and will develop it as a Training and Cultural Centre. In the Miklós building is based the International Built Heritage Conservation Training Centre, which incorporates a conference room, project rooms, office, library and accommodation spaces for trainees and trainers.

In August 2005 the Built Heritage Conservation Training Centre was officially opened in the premises of the ground floor and first floor of the restored Miklós building. Béla Markó, State Minister in charge with coordination of the activities in the field of culture, education and European integration, Jonathan Scheele, Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Romania, HRH The Princess Margarita, Virgil Niŝulescu state-secretary, the Ministry for Culture and Religion and other prominent personalities participated at the official opening. The assembly hall on the first floor and the spacious rooms on the ground floor are suitable for presentations and receptions, the library, the offices and smaller premises enhance their functionality.   

At present the kitchen, catering and accommodation rooms for the training course are located in the former kitchen building. After the training activities will move entirely into the Miklós building, the former kitchen building will become a restaurant.    

The former stables will be transformed into workshops for practicing traditional crafts.    
At present only the Cultural Cafe ensures trade activity, although we hope to establish a conference centre and hotel in the main building. The joint implementation of trade and training activities will result in the sustainable development of the building complex.   

The Foundation places a great emphasis on the principle of regeneration through conservation, meaning that it is mindful, above all, of the interest of the local and regional community. Besides the utilization of the local workforce and materials this will result also in the cultural development of the region, through the launching of cultural tourism etc.   

Visitors from all corners of the world come today to Bonŝida. The castle has been opened for cultural and social events, family and business meetings. The wedding and christening ceremony, which was the first such event organized in the present history if the castle were widely publicised in the press and TV. We are currently developing these initiatives.

Bonŝida Cultural Days
Since its inception in 2002, the castle offers through the Bonŝida Cultural Days a full weekend of events and cultural activities for children and adults. The events are designed to be inclusive of all ethnic groups, Romanians, Hungarians and Roma people through music and dance. Different special events, activities, drawing competition, playhouse are offered for children, but visitors can enjoy high quality concerts and performances as well. Many visitors were attracted by events presenting traditional skills together with fairs, and horse-shows evoking the previous atmosphere of the castle. The event is attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Restoration of the parkland
The parkland surrounding the Bánffy Castle is extremely important in providing a landscaped setting, but as with the castle, it has been ravaged over the years and is in need of considerable upgrading. Re-establishment of the parkland setting will be undertaken with the help of the Pro Patrimonio, led by Sherban Cantacuzino.    
The co-organizer of the program is the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. The National Office for Cultural Heritage, Hungary was the co-organizer of the program through the Culture 2000 programme. Supporters are: European Union through Culture 2000 and Phare framework programmes, the Headley Trust, the World Monuments Fund, the Environmental Partnership, the Municipality and Local Council of Bonŝida.

2. Historic Properties in Rimetea
One of the aims of the Rimetea Heritage Conservation Programme strategy is the protection through ownership.
In 1998, using the legal framework of the Transylvania Trust, the 5th District Municipality of Budapest purchased a Classicist style house at the corner of the main square, which was condemned to demolition. The restoration works and the preparation of the building as a holiday house for the sponsors was completed in 2004.   

In 2000, the Trust purchased two other endangered properties: a dwelling house built in 1749, which can be considered the most authentically preserved vernacular building of the Rimetea ethnographic region and a serf’s house in very poor condition, dated back to 1668, which is one of the oldest peasant houses of the Carpathian Basin. The structural restoration works for this house were carried out in the summer of 2002 within the Built Heritage Conservation Training Project, organised in collaboration with the IHBC. The Foundation intends to establish in both buildings craft museums. Between 2001 and 2004, with the support of the British IHBC, a 19th century dwelling house was purchased and refurbished, which stands on the same plot as the 1749 house, thus enabling the reintegration of the original plot. In 2005 the Transylvania Trust opened here a guesthouse for students and researchers.

3. Built Heritage Research and Training Centre
At present built heritage training and research activity in Transylvania almost exclusively exists in the framework of the Transylvania Trust Foundation, with limited infrastructural facilities. Constructing and furnishing the building that hosts the Foundation’s research and training projects is of utmost importance for the successful completion of these activities. The classrooms rented with great difficulties from the universities do not represent a long-term solution.   

The multi-storied building of the research and training centre with almost 400 sqm usable surface, is capable of accommodating 20 persons and catering for 40, and includes classrooms, a laboratory and a secretary’s office. This has been accomplished with the support of the Apáczai Foundation in 2001. The works have continued in a planned sequence, and the opening of the 2002/03 academic year was organised here. Since October 2002 the new building has hosted the courses of the Postgraduate Studies on Historic Building Conservation (élġ link: a program bemutatása az új honlapon), the presentation of the Historic Structures International Conference Series, as well as other events related to the Trust. In order to make the programme cost-efficient we intend to organise the training and basic research activities in such a way that they would include applied research as well.

Project Director: Hegedüs Csilla

Built heritage

Font size
Send over e-mail