Building technology and ruin conservation
Knowledge about older brick and wooden buildings, structures and materials represents a key part of NIKU's activities. We carry out condition and damage assessments and propose action plans and repair methods for buildings from the Middle Ages up to the 20th century.
Assessments and analyses of the content and properties of the materials used in buildings and on surfaces are also important. Our work often involves investigating the properties of older materials and structures, and what is required to get them to work together with more recent solutions. Managing buildings worthy of preservation also requires in-depth knowledge about management and legislation, protected value, architecture and building practices, building technology, and materials. Most problems require account to be taken of both old and new practices. On the research side of things, the fields of building preservation, materials and structures, deterioration mechanisms, survey methods and environmental monitoring play key roles. Building conservation in Arctic regions is a special field.
Projects within ruin conservation often involve archive studies, archaeological building surveys, condition assessments, damage assessments and proposing measures. Most ruins differ from other buildings in that they have no roofs, and the challenges presented by having to slow the rate of deterioration are therefore somewhat different. They are changeable in nature and have often been conserved earlier using a variety of materials. Therefore, ruins are often a combination of both original building materials from various phases and changes as a result of different restoration periods.
Key issues are therefore what is original, what was the reason for and consequences of earlier restorations, and which required measures can be implemented without affecting the ruin's authenticity. They can also be exposed to very different climatic conditions and subject to variations of different natural impacts. This means the proposed measures may vary from simply careful pointing and jointing with pure limestone mortar to full coverage or enclosure. Both buildings and ruins also have a story that needs to be told. They are the result of different political, economic and social processes in the past that need to be communicated and made accessible to the general public. They are also important sources of knowledge and many still have research potential in relation to archaeology and construction history that must be preserved.