Living with tradition

Living with tradition

Interview with Jozef Čahoj

Jozef Lenhart

Jozef Čahoj authored an interesting book of family house designs and weekend cottage reconstructions published under the title Vernacular Architecture of Slovakia 1 – 2.He has been dealing with vernacular architecture for more than thirty years from the time of his graduation from the Civil Engineering Faculty of the Technical University. In the interview he gives his opinion on the current development in rural architecture and in the attitudes of the society to preserving the original housing development and its nature. “Living in a village in an old house does not mean to have to live in another century and without comfort that has been attained. For years, architecture and urbanism of the countryside have been guided by certain principles that got imprinted in the village look. The same holds for the ground plan of houses, their disposition and practicality. I only wish that the competent authorities – be it the building offices or architects – abide by the minimum architectural and aesthetic principles, such as the street line, the height of housing development, uniformity of house volume and type. Well, and if there is slightest possibility, the house’s style-bearing exterior should be preserved to maximum possible extent displaying the stylistic view and reflecting the craftsmanship of the former masonry masters.”

“Today it can easily be proved by thermo-technical calculations that the clay brick, thick walls or stonework have better properties that the so much prioritised insulated brickwork”

“Though Slovak village had always been under the influence of foreign cultures, it nevertheless possessed its own character, even regionally differentiated. Indeed, the local builders managed to create very original architecture from various stimuli and we should be very grateful to them for this cultural contribution. It has encoded specificity of the landscape, material options, sense of proportion, practicality, usefulness and craftsman’s detail. It characterises us. Yet, what architects imposed on our village over the last half-century negates all these values created over centuries”… “The identity is made up of scores of small trifles and we let ourselves be stripped of them.”