11th PA Culture Workshop on the preservation of cultural heritage in the Baltic Sea Region on November 19, 2020 (on-line event)

 

> Evaluation 

The workshop carried out under the European Union Strategy on Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area (PA) "Culture", was conducted on-line by the PA Culture coordinators. It took place on November 19 and gathered 64 registered users from Poland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and non-Baltic states as well. Among them there were representatives of the academic community, museums and state institutions, restorers of artworks and subject enthusiasts. The theme of the workshop was the protection of wooden architecture as well as sustainable cultural tourism. The initiative aimed to create a room for discussion among pundits about current challenges related to the preservation and promotion of the wooden cultural heritage in the BSR countries. The main topics and issues covered during the workshop included:

  • Protection and restoration of wooden churches, temples, houses, public utility, and industrial buildings as well as entire town districts and villages;

  • Sustainable tourism paradigm, regional identity, knowledge of traditional architecture and visibility of wooden heritage;

  • Local practices, institutional approaches, systemic solutions and policies.

In relation to the worsening epidemiological situation due to COVID-19, the event was held remotely via the Cisco Webex platform. Marcin Poprawski, a researcher and lecturer at the Helsinki University of Applied Sciences (HUMAK) and the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, moderated the meeting. During the three-part session, the following speakers delivered their presentations:

 

Part I: The preservation and protection of wooden architecture​

  • Ryszard Wójtowicz: Church of Peace in Świdnica, Poland

  • Nils Meyer: The Haubarg on the Eiderstedt peninsula. Protection, conservation and conversion, Germany

  • Eva Dahlström Rittsél: Wooden architecture in Sweden. Restorations and maintenance in a long perspective, Sweden

 

Part II: Sustainable tourism in the context of wooden architecture

  • Małgorzata Rapacz: Małopolska Days of Cultural Heritage, Poland

  • bp Waldemar Pytel: Church of Peace in Świdnica, Poland

  • Triin Talk: Developing sustainable tourism in Tallinn, Estonia

Part III: Local examples of protection of wooden architecture sites

  • Donata Armakauskaitė: Museum of Urban Wooden Architecture in Vilnius, Lithuania

  • Hege Bakke-Alisøy: The case of Bryggen in Bergen, Norway

  • Brita Karin Arnover: Tartu's wooden architecture protection system, Estonia

 

The experts mentioned above shared their experience and observations, which let them recognise the most pressing needs in the conservation field and helped identify the common grounds in terms of antique wood and wooden architecture preservation. The last part of the workshop was devoted to summarising and joint brainstorming to establish recommendations and further actions necessary for securing wooden construction and sustainable tourism development. 

During this debate, the participants noticed recurring issues, such as decrease of timber material and technical knowledge availability, lack of adequate legal coverage and funds, hindered access to the wooden heritage sites, the visibility of such places as well as insufficient educational campaigns.

In relation to the development areas mentioned above, the speakers presented several insights on wooden architecture preservation:

  • Conservation and renovation of existing wooden buildings follow the sustainability principles and values by preserving the original material rather than replacing it, which can lead to required energy efficiency in the natural environment.

  • Many historic wooden buildings belong to private owners who need a wide range of consultancy and expertise services to understand and learn about the renovation process's complexity.

  • The local interpreters of heritage may play a crucial role in providing the dialogue with private owners, while the storytellers can engage local communities in heritage protection.

  • Large scale projects serve as benchmarks of wooden architecture, but at the same time, they face substantial challenges that require urgent action.

The workshop was to result in an analysis of Baltic countries' activities designed to protect cultural heritage. Based on the conducted discussion, the following conclusions can be drawn from the meeting:

  • There are numerous cases of successful restoration, preservation and protection taking place in all the partnership countries. The examples presented at the workshop indicate the preference for in situ restoration works if no relocation is necessary due to external conditions.

  • There is a need to introduce a comprehensive conservation policy and extend legal regimes to long-term policies and programs. The current legal framework doesn't cover all the aspects of the protection of wooden architecture (besides the technical supervision and strict regulations).

  • There is no separate financial support or subsidy program to preserve and renovate wooden construction, both at the EU and national levels. Therefore, it is necessary to provide appropriate financial aid.

  • There are institutions and organisations which integrate the local community around wooden cultural heritage, and there are many examples of successful cultural and art activities (concerts, festivals, exhibitions and other events) that are actively raising interest in wooden architecture. They might be the solution for collecting more funds and receiving additional help to protect the wooden monuments.

  • There is strong potential support for renovation coming from sustainable tourism as it can foster the continuation of restoration works.

  • There is a need for expanded education, promotion and advocacy regarding the value of wooden architecture heritage protection. People ought to see such sites in the local community's context, which requires engaging regional activists in the preservation and dissemination of knowledge on that type of architectural gems.

There is a necessity for  to guarantee the proper level of quality and scale of the restoration works of privately owned buildings. Additionally, the standards and availability of consultancy services accessible to private owners have to be improved.

 

Here you can read the full summary: PDF file