Accepted Paper:

Living inside the reservation: new vernacular architecture in the Danube Delta  


Alexandra Dinca (National University of Political Studies and Public Administration)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the new vernacular architecture of villages in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, shaped by climate change, changes in legislation and growing tourist activities. There is nearly nothing amphibious left about it today.

Paper long abstract:

After centuries of living in semi-isolated conditions, some of the small villages of the Danube Delta have become important tourist attractions, as the Communist regime fell and Romania became a part of the European Union. Simultaneously, the interest in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (DDBR) grew bigger, which lead to an important shift in the lifestyle of the inhabitants. New local and European policies encouraged tourism instead of fishing and reed exploitation. But, as expectations changed, so did the infrastructure and the cultural landscape of the delta.

This paper explores the new vernacular architecture in delta villages, which is shaped by various factors. Foremost among these is climate change, where drought has replaced flooding as the most serious challenge. The last evidence that amphibious dwellings actually existed in the Danube Delta can be found in archive images.

Second, vernacular architecture has been shaped by the rules and legislation of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Administration, that allows only the use of certain materials in home building and home improvement, limiting the options of the inhabitants to their disadvantage, raising tensions and protests between local representatives and DDBR officials.

Third, the rise of tourist activities has created a gap between communities who can host tourists and the ones that cannot, mainly as a consequence of DDBR management and access.

Panel Env05
Amphibious dwelling: exploring life between wet and dry