Italian architect in bid to restore 'ghost village'

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Architect Andrea Gillono wants to restore Barmaz, a village in the Aosta valley that has been abandoned for 50 years. Photo: Patafisik/Flickr
12:00 CET+01:00
The village of Barmaz in northern Italy has been lying abandoned for 50 years, but a young architect has presented a plan for its restoration as part of his university thesis.

Barmaz contains only a handful of houses, all of them in ruins. Situated in the small town of Saint-Denis in the Aosta valley, the village is visible from the motorway although there is no road to get there. The only way to reach it is on foot.

The village has remained uninhabited for 50 years, since the land stopped being suitable for farming. Over the years, various solutions to modernise the so-called 'ghost village' have been proposed by local authorities, but as yet none have come to fruition.

Now Andrea Gillono has come up with a plan to restore the hamlet by turning it into a 'holiday village' , La Stampa reported.

“I had always been interested in this characteristic village nestled in the mountains,” Gillone told the newspaper. “I wondered why people would want to build new houses rather than restore those which already exist.

“The project envisages a hotel, where the guests can make the most of the open spaces in the village and the rooms in neighbouring buildings.”

The houses of Barmaz, built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are considered 'prime examples' of rural architecture from the area, and contain original features including stonework and wooden beams.

The mayor of Saint-Denis said modernisation of the village had always been “one of our planned objectives”, adding that tourists visiting the area often asked about Barmaz. However, he said that due to the economic crisis, it would only have been possible with funds from Europe.

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Previous ideas have included transforming the village into a rehabilitation centre for disabled children, or using it for cultural purposes. Now Gillone plans to present his plan for restoration to the district administration.

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