In the framework of the World Heritage Young Experts Forum European Heritage Volunteers had been – beside other tasks as the social-pedagogical and the intercultural mentoring and the supervision of the group and logistic tasks – in first line responsible for the concept development, the preparation and the realisation of the hands-on part.
The current World Heritage Young Experts Forum was the first World Heritage Forum ever, where hands-on activities had been included in the programme. The organisers connect with the success of this part of the World Heritage Young Experts Forum the hope that hands-on activities will be an essential part of future World Heritage Forums, too.
The hands-on part took place in the World Heritage site “Upper Middle Rhine Valley” and had been carried out in close cooperation with the World Heritage site management.
The hands-on part consisted of four workshops related to different topics focusing to the research, the conservation and / or the maintenance of heritage sites and taking place parallel on three consecutive days in different parts of the World Heritage site. The selection of the topics should map on one hand the diversity of the World Heritage site, on the other hand it should take in account the different professional and cultural backgrounds of the participants and thus show them a wide variety of approaches to volunteering for heritage and so enable links to their possible engagement for volunteering at heritage sites and heritage education in their home countries.
All workshops had been guided by professionals, had started with an introduction providing the necessary background information and had been accompanied by regularly additional professional information during the working process. After the end of the hands-on part evaluations in the particular workshop groups took place as well as a common evaluation which included all participants and the organisers.
Workshop “Preservation of the countryside through bush clearance mowing work in precious ecological areas”
The group worked in two smaller groups at two places in respectively nearby the small town Oberwesel.
On of the sub-groups worked at a former wine yard situated in a scenic significant place just in the middle of Oberwesel which had been abandoned for a longer time and cleared the place from bushes and small trees in order to prepare the place for its rehabilitation and its later use as an demonstration area for traditional winegrowing.
The other sub-group worked at a slope three kilometres from the town directly situated above the Rhine valley. This place is a precious ecological area which needs regular maintenance by mowing the grass in order to protect rare plants growing at dry and sunny places.
The participants had the possibility or to stay in one of the two groups during the three hands-on days or to alternate between both groups.
Workshop “Restoration of scenic dry stone walls”
The group worked at dry stone walls nearby the town St. Goarshausen which is famous as “town of the Loreley”. Loreley is the most famous place at the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and played an important role in 19th century during the time of the Romanticism.
The group worked at the former path between the town and the Loreley, directly above the Rhine River. The slopes are characterised by dry stone walls which enabled their use as vine yards over centuries. However, in the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of the vine yards had been infected by a vermin and had been used from that time on as fruit gardens or went totally out of use so that they became abandoned. Than more, the knowledge about the techniques of constructing and reconstructing of dry stone walls got lost step by step.
The group restored under the guidance of masters experienced in dry stone techniques parts of the dry stone walls – taking the broken walls away, preparing the basement and re-erecting the walls.
Workshop “Restoration of historical roof windows of an 18th century building”
The small town Kaub played an important role during the past centuries as home town of shipper families and housed the facilities necessary for the special life rhythm of the shipper families as for example the only school for shippers’ children at the Rhine River. Today the town although being very picturesque struggles with a decreasing population and the connected effects as abandoned houses.
On of the most important monuments of the town is the Blücher Museum, a historical complex from the 18th century. The ensemble is the culminating point of Kaub’s history in the 18th and 19th centuries and houses unique historical tappets. However, the younger history of the house had been complicated – it had been in private property, partly abandoned, and only few years ago the town could buy the house and restore it.
The restoration of the first and the second floors had been finished and the house is used as a museum now. The roof construction had been repaired and the roof had been covered newly, too, but the roof windows which are important for the general view of the house and for the protection of the house against rain, snow, pigeons and other influences had not been restored yet.
The group restored under the guidance of a joiner the damaged parts of the windows and painted them using colours justified by historical research.
Workshop “Construction research at the remains of a Gothic chapel from 14th century”
The group worked at the small town Bacharach, which is dominated by St. Werner’s Chapel, a unique monument from the 14th century. The Chapel is a masterpiece of the Gothic style in the region and had been abandoned for centuries, but it had been re-discovered during the time of the Romanticism in the 19th century.
Despite of the significant importance of the heritage site till to date did not exist neither a proper measurement, neither a detailed documentation of the building.
The group worked together with students of architecture from the University of Applied Sciences Wiesbaden and students of History of Arts of the Gutenberg University in Mainz. The works had been carried out in interdisciplinary groups each composed by one participant of the World Heritage Young Experts Forum, one student of architecture and one student of History of Arts and had been supervised by the professors.
First the participants measured the site, after that they documented the current conservation situation of the particular sectors. On the third day the role of St. Werner’s Chapel as a part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley Heritage site as well as ideas for its future use had been discussed with the local population.