Landscape and farm architecture The inventory of rural architecture

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Riin Alatalu


This article draws on the material collected for the master’s thesis defended in the Restoration Faculty of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2007 and entitled ‘Estonian farm architecture as national heritage. The sustainability and protection of vernacular architecture within the framework of a development plan entitled “Rural Architecture and rural landscape. Study and Conservation”’. The aim of the research was to study Estonian rural architecture, above all, farms, homesteads and other architectural environments previously or currently used by the rural population, from the point of view of heritage protection, that is, their conservation. For this purpose the threats to historic farm structures, possible defence mechanisms, heritage values ascribed to them so far and their effectiveness were analysed. The article gives an overview of farm architecture studies and the conclusions of these studies.

Large-scale research projects and the development plan of rural architecture have several equally important aims and results: photographing and studying traditional buildings and homesteads; compiling systematic databases; giving information about buildings of historic and cultural value to local communities with a focus on the need to preserve them; raising the awareness of local community with the goal of enhancing local identity; the revival of traditional building materials and skills; attaching heritage value to Estonian traditional farm architecture and its preservation; the training of students who would be able to study old farmhouses and develop projects geared to architectural environment protection as well as the popularisation of an environment-friendly lifestyle.

Farm architecture is not yet quite considered an asset worth protecting, that is why studying and explaining its significance requires long and painstaking work, to be carried out on the individual, community and national level. By putting high value on rural buildings, we protect traditional rural landscapes, craft skills and small enterprises producing traditional materials and promote a sustainable lifestyle. To protect and conserve our heritage means to meet obligations not only on the family and national level, but also on the international level.

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