Conservarea arhitecturii din lemn în Suedia
Suedia este un tărâm al arhitecturii lemnului. Ponderea mare a pădurilor a avut un impact important asupra arhitecturii locale vernaculare care, cu câteva excepţii, este o arhitectură a lemnului. În ultimii ani s-au realizat progrese remarcabile în domeniul conservării construcţiilor, iar acest articol tratează atât aspectele actuale ale acestui proces cât şi cele de viitor.
Ştiinţa pierdută a meşteşugurilor tradiţionale
Asemeni multor ţări europene, după al doilea război mondial, Suedia a cunoscut o rapidă industrializare, proces care s-a reflectat şi în sectorul construcţiei de clădiri, bazat înainte pe vechile meşteşuguri. Apariţia materialelor prefabricate a marginalizat până la dispariţie meşteşugurile tradiţionale, iar sistemul educaţional s-a dezvoltat în acord cu acest proces.
În anii ‘40, ‘50, ‘60 interesul pentru păstrarea şi conservarea clădirilor istorice a scăzut considerabil; mai mult, un mare număr de clădiri vechi au fost demolate pentru a face loc noilor structuri, iar populaţia se pregătea pentru intrarea într-o societate modernă în care vechiul nu-şi mai găsea locul.
La începutul anilor ‘70, Suedia se confrunta cu o dispariţie aproape totală a meşteşugurilor tradiţionale. Ca urmare, chiar restaurarea vechilor clădiri utiliza tehnici şi materiale moderne, iar rezultatul era departe de a fi satisfăcător. Puţine voci s-au ridicat împotriva acestei dramatice situaţii, iar şi mai puţine idei au venit în sprijinul surmontării ei.
Recuperarea vechilor cunoştinţe
În Suedia, mijlocul anilor ‘70 a marcat momentul unei turnuri pozitive în domeniul conservării arhitecturale. Campania Europeană Pro Patrimoniu Arhitectural, lansată de Consiliul Europei în 1975, a trezit interesul populaţiei pentru păstrarea şi conservarea vechilor construcţii şi a avut ca rezultat imediat înfiinţarea Asociaţiei Suedeze pentru Conservarea Construcţiilor, ai căror primi membri au fost arhitecţi, restauratori şi oameni interesaţi de istoria locală. Numărul membrilor a crescut în urma apariţiei unei publicaţii de profil.
O nouă abordare a conservării
O prim nou mod de abordare a conservării construcţiilor a fost lansat cu ocazia unui amplu proiect de conservare a castelului Skokloster, situat în afara Stockholmului. Arhitectul însărcinat cu conducerea lucrărilor, Ove Hidemark, a dispus cu vehemenţă utilizarea doar a materialelor, tehnicilor şi metodelor de lucru tradiţionale. Acest fapt a necesitat mai întâi o susţinută muncă de cercetare, analiză şi reproducere a compoziţiei materialelor, tehnicilor de tratare a suprafeţelor, respectiv a uneltelor utilizate în trecut. La vremea aceea acest tip de abordare a fost unic în Suedia, chiar dacă în alte ţări europene idei similare fuseseră deja puse în practică.
Ca urmare, în 1976, s-a înfiinţat şi un nou sistem de control al procesului de conservare, care activa la nivel regional, fiecare consiliu judeţean fiind asistat de către un specialist în conservare, profesie nouă statuată la Universitatea din Gothenburg la sfârşitul anilor 70.
Procesul de reconstrucţie autentică – instrument al
Modul de abordare a procesului de restaurare utilizat în cazul castelului Skokloster a marcat începutul chiar al unei noi mentalităţi în ceea ce priveşte vechile clădiri cu valoare istorică. Scopul principal îl reprezenta menţinerea caracterului original al clădirii; s-a constatat că utilizarea materialelor şi tehnicilor moderne transformă construcţia într-un surogat fără personalitate şi valoare istorică, dar şi că fiecare clădire trebuie investigată individual, aplicarea unor soluţii standard fiind imposibilă datorită caracteristicilor uneori unice ale materialului şi tehnicilor utilizate. Pentru a răspunde cerinţelor acestui nou tip de abordare a fost, firesc, necesară o susţinută muncă de analizare a fiecărei clădiri din perspectiva celor sus menţionate.
Apelul la meşteşugari
Restauratorii actuali au înţeles că, pentru o aplicare corectă a vechilor principii de construcţie, este absolut necesar concursul acelora care încă duc mai departe tradiţiile ancestrale de ridicare a edificiilor, al acelora care pot contribui cel mai bine cu informaţie şi tehnică: meşteşugarii. S-a declanşat astfel un proces de recuperare a cunoştinţelor în materie de meşteşug, prin înfiinţarea programelor de formare profesională a meşteşugarilor şi organizarea unor seminarii periodice în vederea schimbului de experienţă şi al formării unor adevăraţi specialişti în domeniu.
Puternica descentralizare a structurii de control al patrimoniului
Încă din 1976 a început procesul de descentralizare a autorităţii Consiliului Naţional pentru Patrimoniu, înfiinţându-se consilii administrative regionale şi organizaţii regionale de specialişti în restaurare, iar în anii ‘90 coordonarea gestionării fondurilor alocate, a supravegherii bisericilor protejate şi a catalogării clădirilor de patrimoniu a trecut în sarcina organizaţiilor regionale. La acest nivel activează astăzi birouri de profil însumând un număr de până la zece specialişti din domeniile restaurării, arheologiei, istoriei şi conservării mediului, specialişti care se implică activ nu doar în procesul conservării în sine, ci şi în informarea populaţiei asupra principalelor aspecte ale păstrării moştenirii culturale.
Legislaţie şi măsuri de conservare
În Suedia un număr relativ mic de clădiri cu valoare istorică (în jur de 2000) sunt protejate printr-un sistem legislativ puternic. Se merge pe principiul trezirii în conştiinţa populaţiei şi al proprietarilor de clădiri valoroase a dorinţei de a păstra aceste clădiri (prin metode de informare în masă) şi nu pe principiul constrângerii prin lege.
Există, într-adevăr, o legislaţie generală referitoare la clădiri, care stipulează că fiecare proprietar trebuie să ţină cont de caracterul edificiului, indiferent de vârsta şi de valoarea acestuia. Cu toate acestea, legea are o slabă influenţă, sancţiunile pentru încălcarea ei fiind rare.
În aceeaşi situaţie se află şi aşa numitele Zone de Interes Naţional, în care se pot înscrie sate, sectoare ale unor oraşe, zone rurale sau zone cu morminte vechi. Acestea nu sunt protejate legal, dar ele trebuie avute în vedere la emiterea autorizaţiilor de construcţie.
Bisericile însă, sunt protejate prin lege, fiecare biserică construită înainte de 1939 fiind protejată prin măsuri ferme (este vorba de aproximativ 3000 de biserici din totalul de 3800). Nici o acţiune de restaurare nu poate fi iniţiată fără acordul biroului regional de conservare şi restaurare.
Fondurile provenite de la stat
Guvernul suportă cheltuielile legate de conservare pe trei planuri. Primul cuprinde clădirile particulare care au valoare de patrimoniu, cărora li se alocă în jur de 25 milioane Euro anual, în al doilea plan se înscriu clădirile proprietate de stat (castele, ambasade…), iar al treilea plan cuprinde bisericile, a căror conservare este subvenţionată printr-un sistem de distribuţie ce implică administraţia eclesială locală. În acest fel se oferă o şansă şi parohiilor sărace cu biserici valoroase. Mai mult, în cazul bisericilor, tot activităţilor de conservare li se alocă şi un procent din taxele pe care membrii parohiei le plătesc periodic. În ianuarie 2001, când biserica s-a separat de stat, s-a introdus un nou sistem de finanţare guvernamentală care a pornit de la 5 milioane de Euro şi care va ajunge, în 2010, la aproximativ 40 milioane Euro.
Conservarea şi întreţinerea corectă a tuturor acestor edificii reclamă cunoştinţe de specialitate şi îndemanare care, în ultimul timp, au devenit esenţiale. Ca urmare, s-a creat o piaţă a micilor companii specializate în acest sens şi au apărut adevărate organizaţii regionale alcătuite din meşteşugari, constructori şi consultanţi. Pe plan educaţional, Universitatea din Gothenburg a creat programe şi cursuri de formare a specialiştilor în conservare, exemplu urmat apoi şi de Universitatea din Gotland.
Opţiunile de instruire profesională a meşteşugarilor
De vreme ce meşteşugurile şi metodele de construcţie tradiţionale au dispărut din industria construcţiilor cam acum 50 de ani, şansa ca un meşteşugar să beneficieze de instruire profesională a fost practic nulă. În anul 1997 însă, au fost implementate trei programe pilot de instruire pe o perioadă de 2 ani, secondate şi de scurte cursuri. Programele au la bază câteva principii fundamentale pe care ar fi bine să le menţionăm:
În primul rând, sunt invitaţi să participe la aceste programe meşteşugarii aflaţi deja în câmpul muncii, mai cu seamă cei ce activează în domeniu; experienţa este şi semnul interesului viu pentru lucrările de restaurare şi conservare, iar pentru iniţiatorii programului reprezintă o garanţie a bunei lor investiţii. De asemenea, aceste cursuri de formare sunt gratuite. În Suedia nu se prea investeşte în cursuri de formare profesională în domeniul construcţiilor, iar contractanţii lucrărilor de construcţie pur şi simplu nu sunt încă pregătiţi să plătească în acest sens.
Durata acestor cursuri, mai cu seamă pentru cei care au de lucru, trebuie să se extindă pe perioade mai lungi, de pildă până la 8 luni pe an cu două zile de curs pe lună, dat fiind că un angajat nu îşi poate părăsi slujba foarte des. Locaţia pe care se desfăşoară aceste cursuri este esenţială şi trebuie să fie în acord cu tipul de schimb informaţional ce are loc. Cum, în cazul nostru, totul se realizează la nivel practic, un şantier de restaurare şi conservare este “sala de curs” ideală. În ceea ce priveşte metoda pedagogică, aceasta trebuie să aibă în vedere principiul egalităţii şi respectului reciproc între cursanţi, relativ la tipul de meşteşug propriu fiecăruia. În cazul în care în grup există şi cursanţi cu puţină experienţă sau deloc, este preferabil să se combine modelul de pregătire bazat pe egalitate cu cel în care există un meşteşugar foarte experimentat ce îi învaţă pe ceilalţi.
Dacă toate condiţiile sus menţionate sunt îndeplinite, este foarte probabil să obţinem rezultatele dorite.
Materialele şi tehnica
Astăzi, procurarea materialelor utilizate în construcţiile tradiţionale nu mai este o problemă, tocmai datorită cererii în permanentă creştere. Se pot uşor procura materiale ca: culori pe baza de ulei de in, var produs prin metode tradiţionale, lemn de bună calitate, cărămizi, unelte tradiţionale… au apărut şi centre care comercializează aceste materiale precum şi manuale de utilizare a acestora.
În ultimii 15 ani s-au dezvoltat şi noi tehnici de conservare: de pildă, un sistem de reparare a ferestrelor vechi, noi pigmenţi pentru vopselurile pe bază de ulei de in sau modalităţi de înlăturare a straturilor vechi de vopsea; de asemenea, în domeniul conservării construcţiilor din bârne, acum se foloseşte o pârghie pneumatică ce permite controlul sporit al ridicării unor greutăţi mari.
Aspecte legate de dezvoltarea viitoare a domeniului conservarii
Creşterea nivelului de profesionalism şi lărgirea pieţei
În domeniul restaurării-conservării este nevoie de mai mult profesionalism. Ţinând seama de perioada neagră prin care acesta a trecut din anii ‘50 pana în anii ‘70, este necesară implicarea activă a tot mai multor experţi, din diferite zone conexe, la dezvoltarea şi răspândirea tehnicilor şi metodelor tradiţionale de conservare. De asemenea, este importantă creşterea rolului specialiştilor şi îmbunătăţirea metodelor utilizate pentru analizarea şi descrierea valorilor moştenite care trebuie protejate.
Acest fapt atrage după sine şi necesitatea lărgirii pieţei pentru conservare-restaurare spre a oferi unui număr tot mai mare de meşteşugari, arhitecţi, ingineri şi restauratori o motivaţie economică de a se specializa în domeniu. Cu toate acestea, deşi interesul personal este important, trebuie să existe o cerere suficient de mare pentru a putea susţine financiar activitatea companiilor specializate în conservare-restaurare.
În Suedia turismul cultural este relativ scăzut comparativ cu alte ţări, deşi nu ducem lipsă de bunuri de valoare (arhitectură din lemn, peisaje cu valoare istorică, descoperiri arheologice, biserici medievale…) ce pot intra în circuitul turistic. Dezvoltarea turismului cultural este un obiectiv important al procesului de repunere în drepturi a patrimoniului arhitectural naţional şi din perspectiva ameliorării situaţiei populaţiei din zonele rurale (posibilitatea apariţiei de locuri de muncă pentru cei de la sate, unde rata şomajului este în creştere).
Cercetarea şi implicarea meşteşugarilor în cercetare
Organismele guvernamentale şi alte instituţii abilitate trebuie să înţeleagă importanţa cercetării în domeniul restaurării-conservării, cercetare care a devenit indispensabilă în condiţiile unei activităţi crescute şi apariţiei unui mare număr de întrebări care îşi aşteaptă răspunsul. Nu mai puţin importantă este implicarea meşteşugarilor în cercetarea materialelor şi tehnicilor tradiţionale, zonă în care apar probleme legate de cunoaştere cu fiecare clădire restaurată.
Modelul pilot de instruire profesională a meşteşugarilor despre care am vorbit mai devreme trebuie dezvoltat şi răspândit în întreaga ţară. Sperăm ca acest lucru să se întâmple într-un viitor cât mai apropiat, când universităţile şi instituţiile se vor hotărî să elaboreze programe de formare profesională constând în scurte cursuri de specialitate dedicate exclusiv meşteşugarilor care se ocupă cu restaurarea şi conservarea.
De asemenea, consultanţii şi contractorii de proiecte de construcţie trebuie să continue organizarea în reţele regionale, să-şi crească competenţa şi să fie la zi cu informaţia în domeniu. În ultimii ani din ce în ce mai mulţi antreprenori se organizează şi astăzi un număr de peste 300 de companii sunt conectate la reţelele regionale.
De mare importanţă sunt colaborarea şi schimbul de experienţă la nivel internaţional, ca de pildă, proiectul Cultura Lemnului, condus de Consiliul Europei, în care meşteşugari şi arhitecţi din şapte ţări Europene colaborează la păstrarea unei moşteniri culturale europene comune.
Conservarea edificiilor este, la ora actuală, un domeniu în plină dezvoltare în Suedia. După mulţi ani de luptă cu indiferenţa, muzeele regionale, asociaţiile responsabile cu conservarea clădirilor, Consiliul Naţional al Patrimoniului şi alte structuri implicate au reuşit să crească interesul general pentru patrimoniul arhitectural naţional; astăzi, proprietarii sunt bucuroşi să-şi conserve clădirile cu valoare istorică, iar cumpărătorii optează pentru un preţ ridicat când este vorba despre un edificiu catalogat şi protejat. În ultimii 10 ani oamenii au devenit mai interesaţi de problemele legate de patrimoniul cultural, se informează citind reviste de profil, vizitând şantiere de restaurare, chiar participând la cursuri şi programe educaţionale pe această temă. Uriaşul târg de antichităţi de la Stockholm are acum şi un departament de conservare a construcţiilor care are peste 35.000 de vizitatori doar la un sfârşit de săptămână. Conservarea este astăzi la modă.
Am văzut astfel cum, cu perseverentă şi implicare activă, un domeniu care acum câteva decenii se afla într-o situaţie critică este astăzi în plină dezvoltare.
Conservation of Wooden Architecture in Sweden
Like in many other European countries, the former craft based building sector was rapidly industrialised after WW2. New materials and production systems was introduced. Production became based on assembly of prefabricated products. Few traditional crafts were needed. Skills in many crafts were not maintained. The education system adapted to the new situation. Training programmes in technical schools and engineering programmes focused only on modern production techniques. The continuity of knowledge in traditional crafts and materials vanished and was almost totally lost.
At this period, during the 1940-ies, 50-ies and 60-ies, people in general had very little interest for preservation and conservation of historical buildings, except for few, large historical monuments. Thousands of old buildings were demolished. Many town-centres with small, old buildings were knocked down during this period to give way to a new structure. People were dedicated to build the new, modern society and leave the old behind.
At the beginning of the 1970-ies, the situation Sweden faced was difficult in the field of conservation of heritage buildings. In only a few decades, almost all knowledge in traditional crafts was lost. Few people cared for preservation of historical buildings. Few had the skills for doing practical conservation work with the traditional materials and techniques used when the buildings once were erected. Instead architects, engineers and craftsmen used the new materials they were trained to use, also when restoring the old buildings – even if the modern materials and techniques was not developed for this purpose. They did not know of any alternative. The result was not satisfying, with a loss of original fabric and technical problems. Some people identified the problems, but there were few ideas of how to improve the situation.
The mid 1970-ies was a starting point for a positive development in the field of building conservation in Sweden. The European Architectural Heritage Campaign, launched by the Council of Europe in 1975, made people more interested in preservation of heritage buildings. The problems of preservation were noticed in a wider circle.
The establishment of The Swedish Association for Building Conservation was an immediate result of the campaign of the Council of Europe. It found its first members among architects, conservation officers and people interested in their local history. The association started to produce a journal and more people joined.
At the same time, a new approach for practical building conservation was launched at a significant conservation project at the Skokloster castle outside Stockholm in the mid 1970-ies. The architect in charge, Ove Hidemark, demanded strongly only the use of traditional materials, tools and techniques when restoring the castle. Modern materials were banned. The main idea was that the optimal conditions for the old construction could only be created if the very same materials as in the original construction were used. The use of modern materials would result in technical problems caused by differences in characteristics between traditional and modern materials. The task was therefore to analyse the materials used in the construction and in every detail copy composition, quality, construction but also copy old tools. This approach caused a strong need for analyse and understanding of the original construction, to make it possible to imitate the work in every detail. Composition of mortars, quality of wood, construction and surface treatment should be thoroughly investigated before starting the conservation work. The principles used at this conservation project were published in 1974, and has been a guiding star since then. This was of course not a unique approach. Similar ideas have of course developed in other countries. But in Sweden this occurrence was important. The architect in charge of the conservation work became later professor in the arts of conservation at The Royal School of Fine Arts and head of a new conservation training programme.
A new system of regional state inspection offices was established 1976. Instead of relying only on The National Heritage Board in Stockholm, each county administrative board was given a county conservator. The purpose was to strengthen the position of heritage throughout the country.
In the late 1970-ies, a new university programme was established in Gothenburg – the conservation officers programme. It introduced a new profession that still has a great impact on building conservation today in Sweden.
All together, this was principally the starting point of modern building conservation in Sweden. The conservation approach introduced at the Skokloster castle has been developed and influenced by many other countries. Norway – a country with outstanding wooden architecture and very high skills in conservation of wooden buildings – has labelled this approach ´authentic reconstruction process´. The foundation is a very strong respect for the existing building and the materials and techniques used when the building was erected, including changes. The central principle is to try to use exactly the same materials, craft techniques, constructions, tools surface treatment etc. as used originally when restoring. In some aspects, this can be said to depart from The Venice Charter. One of the reasons is to keep the character of the architecture. If modern materials and techniques are used, the character of the building would change. A too explicit presentation of new fabric added during a conservation work may cause the same effect. The building becomes a patchwork. The use of the original materials and techniques supports the preservation of the character of the building. But the strongest argument for this position, is that it forces participating professionals to carefully investigate each building. If the principle is used in practise, it is not possible to apply a standard solution. This produces continuously new knowledge. Or to be more exact; it gives us a possibility to regain lost knowledge. Each building carries a lot of detailed information and the principle of authentic process gives us strong motives for analysing every little trace. Unfortunately, it is not always used. Instead, standardised conservation solutions is often used without sufficient investigations from the participants involved. The chance to gain knowledge is then lost.
However, this approach forces the conservation process to focus a lot on the skills of the craftsmen. There are several reasons for this. First, to produce a good conservation, all professions participating in the work must be experienced and well trained. Craftsmen is an important group, but has had a not so favourable situation concerning for example training.
Second, it is of great importance to involve craftsmen more in the conservation process. The explanation is that when local craftsmen built most of the old wooden buildings, it is important that craftsmen participate in investigation and analysis phase of the conservation process today. They represent the same tradition of knowledge as the craftsmen that once built these buildings, and can therefore contribute with more and deeper information about the construction, than for example an architect or an engineer. Therefore, we are working hard on revival of traditional crafts related to wooden architecture, as well as the development of conservation techniques based on traditional wooden crafts. The strengthening of the competence and the position of the craftsman in the conservation process is also an urgent subject. Further training programmes for craftsmen specialised in conservation are therefore arranged in several provinces and also in some new training conservation institutes. Special seminars adapted to craftsmen are arranged every year so that they can meet and exchange knowledge and experience and grow stronger in their own field. Actions are also taken to support craftsmen and building contractors to establish networks and other measures to strengthen their professional position.
In Sweden, rather few of all valuable buildings are protected by strong legislation. Preservation depends a lot upon the general interest in society and the interest among the owners. Only little more than 2000 buildings are listed and have a strong legal protection. The central principle is that it is not a long-term solution to try to force people to preserve their buildings. The basic assumption is that buildings are best preserved by interested and caring owners. Information and training are instead the means used.
There is a general building legislation, telling that every house owner – no matter the age and value of the building – should considerate the character of his or her building. However, this legislation is rather weak, and sanctions for disregarding this law is rare. The local authorities can give certain signification to valuable buildings in their plans. Unfortunately, this is also a rather weak protection, when it is not a legal protection, only an indication to the local building committee that a restriction in the use or changing of the building is desirable.
Churches have a strong legal protection. Every church built before 1939 is protected by strong heritage legislation. No change or major restoration can be carried out without permission from the county conservators office at the County Administrative Board. Approximately 3000 out of a total number of 3800 churches are protected in this way.
There is also something called Areas of National Interest. There are almost 2000 such areas in Sweden. It can be a village, a district in a town, a rural area, an area with ancient graves etc. These areas are not legally protected, but the values in these areas are supposed to be considered when the local building committees are deciding upon building permits etc.
The government supports conservation mainly through three channels. Some 25 million euros are granted to conservation of privately owned buildings each year. The funds are distributed by the county conservators offices.
The Governmental Real Estate Department is a governmental body with a commission to preserve and manage a large amount of heritage buildings owned by the state, all over the country and even abroad. Castles, embassies and residences for the county governments constitute the property. Capital is provided by leasing buildings to governmental departments and other official purposes.
The conservation of churches is financed by a distribution system within the ecclesiastical administration, in order to give a fair chance also to poor parishes with valuable churches. All people who are members of the church pay a tax that partly is used for this purpose. When the church was separated from the state the 1 of January 2001, a new supportive state funding system was introduced. Starting at 5 million euros 2001, the governmental support will rise to 40 million euros by 2010.
The conservation and continuous maintenance of all these privately owned buildings, official state buildings and churches causes a great and important demand for skills that uphold and develop important knowledge in the field of conservation and traditional skills. During the long period since WW2, when nobody in the ordinary market demanded the use of traditional materials and techniques and careful conservation work, the state funding played a very important role in keeping up a little but constant demand for these skills. When giving the grants, the state inspection had the possibility to demand the use of traditional materials and methods. It has produced a little market for small, specialised companies in different fields. This has made skills to survive and even develop. Each year approximately 500-1000 buildings have been restored in a way worthy of imitation, giving an example to people of how things should be done. Together with other activities, this has been of fundamental significance for the general interest in society for conservation and preservation of historical buildings.
The last five years, craftsmen, building contractors and consultants have started to organise in regional networks. Some are formalised, but most of them are still informal. Since three years there is also a national branch organisation with some 50 members.
The increasing interest in building conservation and the growing market has also augmented the demand for university education. Since many years, Gothenburg University gives a conservation officers programme. Nowadays it is a four years programme. Since last autumn, the Gotland University gives a similar programme, but with a stronger emphasis on knowledge in construction, crafts and materials.
Several universities give short courses, five to twenty weeks, that can constitute a part of an university degree. The Royal School of Fine Arts in Stockholm, has for long time offered a one-year postgraduate specialist course in conservation for architects, engineers and conservation officers. Now, also The Gotland University offers a similar course.
Since traditional crafts and constructions disappeared from the building industry some 50 years ago, the possibilities for craftsmen to find training opportunities within this field was non-existent. But the demand for vocational training has risen. Since 1997, three two-year long training programmes have been established, plus some shorter courses.
The result of the conservation work depends to a high extent on the skills of the craftsmen involved. They are actually doing much of the conservation work. Therefore, the craftsmen’s further training must improve. Some years ago there existed practically no further training in the field of building conservation, adapted to the situation of working craftsmen. To improve this situation, a further training model, adapted to the conditions for working craftsmen, have been developed, tested and improved in two counties where building conservation is strongly supported by the regional authorities and where there is groups of craftsmen and building contractors specialising in this field. The training system is very simple, but it is based on some fundamental assumptions that we think is important to consider:
– Start to invite craftsmen that already have been working with conservation. It is a great advantage if the participating craftsmen have at least some skills and experience from conservation work. And most important; experience is often a sign of serious interest, which is a crucial condition for training and learning more. People must not be ´forced´ to participate, because that will give no good circumstances to the training. It is much better to start with a little, but enthusiastic group, than a large where some people are not so very interested. Craftsmen and contractors already working with conservation have also proved they have a sound economical foundation and organisation and will probably stay in the business. This means it is reasonable to assume that any investment in training, resulting in new knowledge, new contacts and experiences developed during the training will immediately be used in future conservation works. To primarily invite craftsmen and building contractors already working in the conservation field is an insurance for knowing the investment in training will be of valuable use and not wasted. Training of unemployed craftsmen is unfortunately a more risky business. Being selected for training by the only criteria a person is unemployed is not a very good start. Experience, skills and interest must be judged and the basis for invitation to training.
– The training must be free of charge. At least in Sweden, there is a very weak tradition for investing in training in the building industry. The building contractors are simply not yet prepared to pay for training, even if it would be advantageous for their business.
– Working craftsmen cannot leave work more than only few days a month. Irrespective of if they are employed or running their own business, people cannot leave work for long. Their work and the contractors business cannot be disturbed too much. There is also a very important alternative cost for the company when the craftsmen are off work to participate in training. When a craftsman is not working, the company are loosing income, while there still is a cost for salary. We have found that two days a month, up to 8 months a year is acceptable when running a long-term training programme. Avoid summer holiday periods and Christmas. Also if there is only a short course, two or three days are suitable.
– Practical skills cannot be written down and transmitted between craftsmen in text or word alone. The vocational knowledge is exchanged during practical work. Therefore, the training must be arranged in a real working situation – often at a conservation/restoration site.
– To be considered meaningful, the training must start out from a real problem at a conservation site. Each time we are working with a clearly defined task or problem – choose the ones you find important to train. A suitable building, containing the actual problems we want to focus on.
– The pedagogical method used is based on the assumption that the craftsmen have skills themselves that must be used in the training situation. No professional would like to be taught in a one-way communication. Among craftsmen like in other professional groups it is very important that people can feel they are equals that are respected for their skills. Even if skills of course varies between individuals. We are using a system where we have a leader organising the training, but he or she does not teach and are not always the most skilled professional. If the person responsible for planning the training is a conservation officer, he or she is actually the least skilled person within the group.
– There are always several purposes with the training. One important thing is of course to practise certain traditional crafts or conservation techniques. But our opinion is that there is equally important to train the ability to judge different conservation measures, through analysis in small groups, followed by discussions in a wider group.
– Even if the group consists of craftsmen with little or no experience in restoration/conservation or traditional materials and crafts, it is possible to use this training model, but it might be preferable to combine it with more traditional training where an experienced craftsman teaches the group.
– If all these conditions are fulfilled, it is often very likely there is possible to initiate a very advanced and stimulating discussion.
The supply of traditional building material has also increased as a result of the growing demand. Today, there is no problem in finding for example linseed oil paint, traditionally produced lime, high quality wood, bricks, old window glass, and tools like traditional axes etc. New specialised so called building conservation centres has been established, where people can buy new and old spare parts and books, watch good examples of maintenance with traditional materials and they can also find good advice.
The last 15 years, a number of new conservation techniques and equipment have been developed. A new window repair system for very careful conservation has been developed by a company in the south of Sweden. Hundreds of craftsmen have been trained in this technique the last 15 years. This company has also developed a special lamp for easy removal of old putty.
Also in the field of painting on wood many things have improved. The number of suppliers of linseed oil paint is increasing and research is going on to compensate for the removal of lead pigments. A special heating lamp for economical and harmless removal of old paint layers has been developed by a company in Gothenburg.
In the field of conservation of log buildings, a new pneumatic jack has been introduced, permitting good control of heavy lifts. This technique was initially developed for use by the rescue corps.
There are some issues that can be identified as crucial for the future development in the field of conservation.
There is a need for greater professionalism within the field of conservation. For long time – which unfortunately still is the case in many provinces – building conservation was considered as something concerning only the regional museum and the county conservators office. The historical reasons for this can be found in the lack of interest in the entire society during the 1960-ies and 70-ies. This must change and the process has already started. To produce a higher quality and a spread interest and knowledge throughout society, more experts from different professions must take part in the conservation process. The conservation process cannot be run in a professional way by a little number of conservation officers, trying to deal with every different matter. Different specialists must be given the chance to provide their skills throughout the process. As well as craftsmen, architects and other professionals must specialise, there is a need for developing the role of the conservation officers and improving the instruments used for analysing and describing the heritage values that should be protected.
It is a fundamental task to continue to make the market for conservation and restoration bigger, so there will be an economical motive for even more craftsmen, architects, engineers, building contractors etc. to specialise in this field. Personal interest is a good and almost necessary asset, but it cannot replace a sound economical foundation. There must be a demand, big enough to finance the business of the companies specialising in conservation, for research and training etc.
The last five-ten years, the interest among people in general and house owners in particular, has grown fast. More and more people are getting interested in preserving their historical building. More house owners are also prepared to conserve their building with traditional materials and techniques. Some years ago, a listing of a building was regarded as a problem, but today it is an additional value that gives a building a higher price.
This positive development is very encouraging for the future. We hope that it soon will be a natural thing for every owner of a historic building to buy special competence when conservation works is needed, in the same way it is considered naturally to hire specialists for electrical work or plumbing. A growing demand for conservation skills is of vital importance to make the market for craftsmen, building contractors and consultants specialising in this field grow even more.
Heritage tourism is still a small market in Sweden, compared to many other countries. Though the vast existence of assets in the shape of a rich wooden architecture, prehistoric landscapes, archaeological findings, medieval churches etc., the use of these assets for different types of serious heritage tourism is very limited and must develop. Then there would be an even greater interest for preservation of the heritage in the future. Heritage tourism businesses have a potential of employing people in rural areas, where the supply of employment is decreasing. It would also reinforce the demand for specialist knowledge, which is favourable in many aspects.
It is a crucial task to make governmental bodies and other institutions realise the need for more research in the field of conservation. There is unfortunately very little research going on at the universities or at the architect schools. With a growing activity, more questions and problems are identified that must find its answers. A development must be provided with new knowledge. A crucial question is to make governmental bodies and institutions grant money for a more extensive research than the small amount allocated today.
The most important task is however to organise and make it possible for craftsmen to do research about traditional materials and techniques. This might seem as a difficult task, but must be realised in the soon future. Continuously, there are problems or lacks of knowledge identified in the ongoing conservation process, related to materials and craft techniques. There is a need to invest in research to eliminate these problems. It is not possible to continue to work without taking care of the knowledge problems.
Development of craftsmen’s further training
The test model for craftsmen’s further training described above, must be developed and spread geographically throughout the country. The diversity of different courses must grow. Hopefully this will happen in the close future, when some universities and institutes are planning to collaborate in arranging a common offer of short training courses in different crafts, intended for conservation craftsmen.
The consultants and contractors in this branch of the building industry must continue to organise themselves and start to work politically, market their competence and work with training facilities to a higher extent. The few regional networks must be followed by others. In 1999, a national branch organisation was established and has now 50 member companies. It must develop and learn from similar organisations in other countries, for example Le Groupement National des Monuments Historiques in France. This group of craftsmen and contractors constitutes of course a very small number in relation to the total amount of building contractors in the country. Nevertheless, the last years more and more contractors are organising and today approximately 300 companies are connected to these networks.
Finally, a growing international exchange and collaboration is of course of vital importance for a prosperous conservation field. It is stimulating and gives references and cause reflections among all participants. The project Wooden culture, managed by the Council of Europe within the campaign Europe - a common heritage, where craftsmen and architects from seven different European countries collaborate, is from a Swedish point of a view very valuable for the future development within the field.
Building conservation is a rapidly developing field right now in Sweden. The general interest is growing after many years of promotion from Regional museums, county conservators offices, The National Heritage Board and The Swedish Association for Building Conservation. House owners are anxious to preserve their buildings – which was not the case 15-20 years ago. In some areas, a listed building is regarded very attractive and people are prepared to pay a premium price. People in general have become distinctly more interested in building conservation the last 10 years. They visit local conservation sites and historical buildings, read articles, participate in short courses or university education programmes etc. Many interior magazines have in almost every issue some articles about families and their conserved buildings. The annual, huge antique fair in Stockholm has developed a special building conservation department that is very popular has some 35.000 visitors during a weekend. Conservation has become in fashion. The education system has improved in few years. More and more consultants and contractors are specialising in this field and they are organising in regional networks and on the national level. This trend can also be seen in the growing number of consultants and contractors specialising in this field. Obviously, the growing interest among people has resulted in a growing market for specialists in this field. I hope this short description can show that a difficult situation can be changed in short time.
* Henrik Larsson este director de proiecte al mai multor instituţii suedeze din domeniul patrimoniului cultural: Consiliul provinciei Gaevleborg, Universitatea Gotland şi Timmerdraget.
* Henrik Larsson is a project manager working for different institutions within the conservation field in Sweden, for example The County Administrative Board of the Gaevleborg province, The Gotland University and Timmerdraget. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org