ND Students Help Repair Medieval Church and Produce Designs for The Prince of Wales

Author: Ashley Johnston

Conservation and Preservation in Romania

0195Professor Lucien Steil, Henry Rumbold, Chris Lattimer, Michelle Simunich, Mary Catherine Walter, Scott Varian, Courtney Haddick, and Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro.

Six Notre Dame architecture students and Professor Lucien Steil had the opportunity to work on a 14th century fortified church in Transylvania, where a number of repairs were undertaken at the exterior defense walls. The students started with a few practical lectures about tools and materials, geometry and basic structural problems which need to be addressed when working on historic sites. Under the guidance of master stonemason and leading specialist in European heritage Henry Rumbold, MBE, they learned about different traditional materials and methods of construction.



The repairs undertaken by the students involved removing defective mortar, removing and numbering/ documenting the site using cameras and sketches. They learned how to prepare different lime mortars and various application techniques.  Under the guidance of Steil and Rumbold they completed the work by learning how to produce the historic finish on stone walls.


The Notre Dame Architecture students stayed at The Prince of Wales House in the UNESCO village of Viscri. The premise is to become an international training center able to host courses in the field of traditional architecture, organic farming and sustainable development. The barn will be converted into a conference room and café, and a new cottage is to be designed and built in order to create further accommodation space. Currently there are three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, a kitchen and dining room, a utility room and a summer kitchen for outdoor dining.


The Prince’s House in Viscri is a prime example of vernacular Saxon architecture in Transylvania. The oldest part of the house is from 1777 and there are a number of extensions from 1880s as well as more recent ones. The materials built are locally sourced – stone, bricks, lime and timber.

Under the guidance of the Professor Steil, the Notre Dame students were asked to design a new four bedroom cottage in keep with the existing buildings and to provide proposals for the conversion of the barn. They worked in two teams: the first team produced different designs for the new cottage and the second team produced technical drawings and suggestions for the barn conversion.


They also worked with Rumbold and Steil to produce proposals for a better drainage system of the lower part of the courtyard, which gets regularly flooded in spring and autumn, when there are substantial quantities of rain in the region.

The Notre Dame students produced beautiful designs that will be shared with the team of architects working on the extension and conversion of the property. The Prince of Wales will also be presented with copies of the designs. 


To view additional images, please visit the School of Architecture on Flickr.