The Oshakan Project

A groundbreaking initiative to promote sustainable architecture and craft in Armenia

From Instagram, @aavs_armenia

Aram Mooradian and Shant Charoian are excited to announce the launch of The Oshakan Project, a free international school of sustainable architecture and craft in Armenia. The research and educational organization is dedicated to promoting adaptive reuse and a circular economy. This innovative program aims to offer an alternative to traditional academy-style education, emphasizing international connections, sustainable building systems and hands-on experience with live building processes.

The inaugural phase of The Oshakan Project will kick off with a two-week pilot summer workshop scheduled from July 6 to 21, 2024, followed by two additional summer schools in the subsequent years. Nestled in the village of Oshakan, approximately 26 km northwest of Yerevan, students will actively engage in mapping the heritage and resources of the local area, identifying opportunities forc onstructing public structures using experimental sustainable construction techniques. Importantly, these structures will be designed collaboratively with the local community.

The Oshakan Project seeks to address the growing need for sustainable development in Armenia, particularly in the face of a surging tourism industry that poses threats to the country’s rich heritage. With a focus on international partnerships, the school aims to raise awareness of contemporary Armenian craft on a global scale.

This year’s pilot summer school will not only test a hands-on, site-specific educational approach but will also contribute to improving the architectural and urban condition of Oshakan by working closely with its community. Accommodations for participants will be provided at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory, just 15 minutes away from Oshakan.

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“Armenia’s heritage is under threat. More than one million tourists visited Armenia in the first half of 2023, a 70-percent increase from 2022. The construction boom that is meeting this demand often utilizes quick and wasteful methods of building. Now is the time to propose new visions for the adaptive reuse of Armenia’s historic buildings and townscapes before they are lost to rampant development,” said Aram Mooradian.

Oshakan, situated amidst an ancient Urartian fortress, a disused Soviet-era astrophysical laboratory and the burial site of the fourth-century monk and inventor of the Armenian alphabet Mesrob Mashtots, provides an ideal backdrop for experiments in heritage and sustainable construction. The village’s rich building stock offers numerous points of study and opportunities for hosting events and workshops.

To support and enhance the program’s reach, The Oshakan Project is proud to partner with the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) Visiting School, one of the world’s preeminent schools of architecture. The AA will provide institutional backing, logistical support and financial processing while contributing to the marketing efforts of the program, leveraging its extensive social media reach.

The Oshakan Project is set to build connections between local and international practitioners, fostering contemporary architectural culture at home and raising awareness of Armenian culture abroad.

Visit here for more information and to apply for The Oshakan Project.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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