GOSTUŠA CONSERVATION PROJECT
“Gostuša”, also known as “stone settlement” is located in South-east of Serbia in the area of the Nature Park “Stara planina”, and it represents a unique mountain village, also enlisted as a national cultural property.
Its outstanding values were pointed out in legislative documents concerning cultural heritage protection and preservation, and urban and spatial planning in the Republic of Serbia. The Project gives an insight into the extraordinary connection between the nature and architecture that managed to survive in its original form for more than one hundred years. The peaceful coexistence of man and nature brought back to life the values that were forgotten for decades, and the thought that this simple symbiosis can ensure sustainability for the future. The village was almost abandoned in the 1970s, and after almost four decades the only logical solution seemed to be “going back to the origins”. In order to protect the natural and cultural heritage, and the unique environment, but also the intangible heritage many actions were undertaken by the Serbian authorities. In order to preserve the unique landscape and architecture The Institute for cultural heritage preservation Nis started a research project in the year 2011, and made the set of documents and actions for its protection in the terms of the Law. The inherent values of the natural materials and manmade structures, together with plenty of natural resources, but also the vicinity of the larger settlements, the lake, ski-center, etc. make this place so special in every possible way.
The specific functional and architectural concept of the village is very interesting. It consists of the residential area placed in a narrow canyon of two small mountain rivers, and satellite settlements that create the network of small independent units at a distance of 300 to 500 meters in relation to the central settlement, and all together constitute a unique living organism, changing in function together with the change of seasons.
The architecture of residential and economy units is always adapted to the terrain and the natural resources. Stone dominates as a building material, and it is used widely from the foundation to the top and the roofing. The new concept of tourism in rural areas gives so many different possibilities for sustainable development especially in places like this. Preserving the built heritage is one of the ways that ensure the better quality of the touristic offer of the region as well as its authenticity together with all the other values.
Elena Vasić Petrović