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ArgumentNo. 7/2015

Residential saxon architecture

  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania
  • / “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Romania


Transylvanian Saxon region is the largest area of medieval rural architecture in Europe. Following the premises given by medieval kings of Hungary, after 1100 AD German speaking immigrants were colonized in southern and eastern Transylvania, at the mountain passes, to guard the borders of the Empire. Housing shows significant features due to its location in low risk earthquake areas and Western influences that dictate the particular way of construction. They always used materials from local sources and their methods meet the possibilities from 13th century until the 19th century.

Saxons organised villages in which the arrangement of dwellings and access roads depended on the Flemish way of dividing the fields. This arrangement and contiguity between houses develops the sense of community belonging and the foundation of "the neighbourhood", a sort of association organized to supervise agricultural work, costs of fines, behavior in church or helping each other.

The house presents a continuous street front with the main gate merged in it. Along one side of the the plot the annexes are in-line (the summer kitchen with the pantry, the studio and the coop), while the back is partially occupied by the transverse barn that can be unified with the neighbor’s barn. The courtyard is delimited by owner’s buildings on one side and the neighbor’s blind wall on the opposite side. The courtyard bordered by all the annexes and barn in the back is usually paved with stone or brick. It is expected that, in time, earth and rainwater to cover this layer.

Materials si construction method

The main materials used for constructions are wood and brick.

By the late nineteenth century, the massive masonry enclosures were the buildings main element of indoor micro-climate control and regulation, based on masonry specific conservative behavior.

There are many restauration projects that involve the residential saxon architecture, and al these projects offer more and more knowledge about it. Therefore, when making a new project involving them one has to update the information he holds and to proceed according it. He can also take into account the way the same problem or subject was solved in a previous project and use the found information. Those two cases are ways of researching through projects.