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Kone Foundation provides major funding for research into Finland's medieval wooden building heritage

Assistant Professor Panu Savolainen's research group receives 347 000 euros in funding.
Research group members at Karjaa medieval church in May 2020. Photo: Panu Savolainen
Research group members at Karjaa medieval church in May 2020. Photo: Panu Savolainen

The Kone Foundation awarded a major research grant to study the medieval wooden structures preserved in Finland. The research project is led by Assistant Professor Panu Savolainen and includes post doc researchers Liisa Seppänen and Vivi Deckwirth and doctoral researchers Ilari Aalto, Franziska Dalheimer, Laura Laine and Pauliina Saarinen. In addition, several experts from the fields of restoration and engineering will work on the project for shorter periods. Documentary filmmaker Antti Seppänen will make a film about the project.

Panu Savolaisen tutkimusryhmän jäseniä Karjaan kirkossa maaliskuussa 2020. Kuva: Panu Savolainen
Research group members at Karjaa medieval church in May 2020. Photo: Panu Savolainen

Finland's medieval wooden building heritage is hidden in the roof structures of just under twenty medieval stone churches. The wooden structures, which have served as load-bearing structures for more than half a millennium, are a unique part of the medieval built heritage and the only window into Finland's medieval wooden architecture that has been preserved in a non-archaeological context. They reveal both the local craftsmanship and the close links of medieval Finland to innovations in timber construction across Europe. In the project, Finnish medieval roof structures will be studied in a multidisciplinary way using methods from architectural history, archaeology, engineering, history and experimental archaeology, based on a holistic cultural-historical perspective.

The aim is also to systematically document unique and fragile structures, whose carvings, inscriptions and architectural assemblages contain material information on the stages of medieval building projects and the involvement of communities and even individuals. The project will also examine building victims placed in the vault structures of churches, evidence of which has already been found during preliminary inspections of two churches.

The project's research work, openly published research material, scientific and popular publications, a blog, youtube videos and a documentary film highlight an invisible but visually fascinating part of Finland's oldest built heritage. Preserving, studying and promoting it will help to instil the principles of sustainable building in society and political decision-making.

Working group
Panu Savolainen, Liisa Seppänen, Laura Laine, Pauliina Saarinen, Ilari Aalto, Vivi Deckwirth, Franziska Dalheimer sekä Marko Huttunen, Lauri Saarinen, Antti Seppänen, Miina Tolonen, Mia Puranen

More information:
Panu Savolainen
Assistant Professor, History of Architecture an Architectural Conservation
[email protected]
+358 50 4756 727

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