There are few countries in the world where the history of material culture would be as strongly associated with wood as it is in Poland […]. This is also because the world of Polish wooden architectural forms arose thanks to the natural conditions of the landscape, which was largely filled with primeval forests and thick woods.
The Lublin region has a rich tradition of using wood for construction. Just a few decades ago, wood was the predominant building material in the countryside, small towns and on the outskirts of large cities. Small, multicultural towns were a characteristic element of the region’s cultural landscape. Their wooden structures included houses, places of worship and public buildings, which were one of the most original phenomena in Polish and Central European architecture. Today, only the last surviving examples of characteristic small‑ town groups of buildings known as arcaded houses remain.
Norway has a rich tradition of wooden architecture that, significantly, has been undisturbed by the ravages of war. Keeping in mind the continuity and durability of these architectural forms as well as the highly developed methods for the preservation, documentation and promotion of the wooden heritage, we based our project on co‑operating and exchanging experience with, among others, experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research and the Larvik Museum.
The objective of the project was the documentation and promotion of the traditional wooden architecture of the Lublin region towns as well as raising the awareness of the local communities to the problem of the degradation of their multicultural heritage.
Five towns from the Lublin region were selected for this project – Dubienka, Krasnobród, Szczebrzeszyn, Tyszowce and Wojsławice. During the inter‑war period, these places were typical multicultural towns, inhabited by the Roman Catholic community, the Jewish community and the Orthodox community. All of the selected towns have market squares that in the inter‑war years were surrounded by examples of wooden architecture, including the arcade buildings characteristic of the Lublin region architecture (Krasnobród, Wojsławice).
A place for which 3D models have been prepared in Norway is the city of Larvik, in the south‑eastern part of the country. Its origins date back to 1671. Larvik consists of three settlement systems that were joined together in 1838. The town’s space is entirely filled with wooden architecture. Partners invited to co‑operate in the project, particularly the Larvik Museum, have at their disposal pictorial, photographic and technical documentation that enabled the presentation of the development of the town’s urban space in three historical periods.
Project activities began in May 2014 with study visits from experts around Poland and Norway, as well as the launching of the project’s website at www.drewnianyskarb.teatrnn.pl. An inventory of wooden structures combined with 3D scans of the market squares in all of the towns of the Lublin region covered by the project took place in July and August 2014. Simultaneously, research was conducted in libraries and archives, including the Hieronim Łopaciński Regional Public Library in Lublin, the State Archives in Lublin, the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments in Lublin and its delegations in Zamość and Chełm, the Art Institute at PAN, the National Library and the National Digital Archives.
After preparing the reference materials for building the virtual model, the 3D modelling works began. This work was undertaken by the Poznań‑based company Cocomo ran by Antoni Janicki. Virtual models of the Lublin region towns and of Larvik were placed on a multimedia website dedicated to wooden architecture. Based on the materials collected as a result of research queries and procured from our Norwegian partners, instructions for the protection and conservation of wood were also prepared.
In the first half of September 2015, educational workshops were organised for local government representatives, employees of cultural institutions and schoolchildren. Participants included also the inhabitants of the towns featured in the project (Dubienka, Wojsławice, Szczebrzeszyn, Krasnobród, Tyszowce). Workshop participants acquired knowledge about architectural traditions, as well as ways to protect and restore it. The workshops consisted of theoretical classes – lectures and presentations – and practical ones such as a visit to the Lublin Open Air Village Museum,demonstrations of 3D scanning and classes with carpenters from Norway and Poland.
During the project’s final stage, an exhibition was prepared presenting wooden architecture from the Lublin region as well as Larvik, and around Norway. The exhibition was presented in Norway and in the Lublin region towns.
The knowledge gathered during the project was collected in two publications available in paper version as well as an online one, available on the project’s website.
The conclusion of all activities was a conference of experts and interested persons from Poland and Norway that took place at the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre in Lublin. The project was closed in December 2015.
One of the project’s major achievements is creating a network bringing together people, institutions and organisations interested in protecting wooden regional heritage. They include schools, local governments, cultural institutions, small companies, experts, tour guides and teachers who see possibilities for self‑development in the areas in question. Importantly, thanks to the workshops for teens, it was possible to find people who may become involved in various activities in the future. In subsequent projects and programmes, the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre shall try to develop this network and expand it.
The project also established co‑operation with the Lublin Open Air Village Museum as well as with the Chair of Architecture, Urban Studies and Spatial Planning at the Lublin Institute of Technology. Thanks to these partners, the project was expanded to include two elements. The staff of the Museum presented their daily work related to the creation, protection, care and publicising of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage as well as its environment by simulating historical forms of settlement, residence and communal buildings of villages and towns along with their accoutrements and traditional forms of the natural and cultural landscape.
The staff of the Lublin Institute of Technology implemented cutting‑edge technology connected with 3D scanning into the design activities which can be used to protect cultural heritage. They prepared 3D scans of the market squares of places selected for the project and made their processes available for use in future activities.
One of the main tools for ensuring the project’s sustainability are the 3D models of the towns of the Lublin region and of Larvik. They are available at no cost on the project’s website to anyone who is interested. Thanks to this form of visualisation, we can translate knowledge and data collected from our research, queries and 3D scans into a language accessible to a broader audience. The journalist Edwin Bendyk aptly describes this process, saying: “This is not just a reconstruction, a commemoration, but also a true act of remembering involving the translation of forgotten symbols and content into a new language and the new, multimedia sensibility of the residents of contemporary reality.”
The leader of the project was the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre, an institution working for the promotion of the history and cultural heritage of Lublin and the Lublin region. Their project partners were: the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) as well as the Vestfoldmuseene IKS (Larvik Museum).
NIKU is an independent non-profit institution specialising in the subject of cultural heritage, its protection and sustainable management. Among the main activities of the Institute are: the protection of objects of art and monuments of architecture, archaeology, cultural heritage of the Far North and spatial planning regarding the protection of the cultural heritage in the construction of public facilities and commercial buildings.
Larvik Museum was established in 1916 with the aim of protecting and renovating historical buildings in Larvik. Implemented projects: "Count's Palace" (the renovation of the wooden residence in Larvik), "Cultural Heritage of the Western Sea", "History of Larvik" (permanent project implemented by the Larvik Museum, aiming to examine the cultural heritage and history of the Danish reign between 1671-1805).
The project “Wooden Treasure. Preserving Heritage, Design Future” was carried out as part of the programme Promoting cultural and artistic diversity within the framework of European cultural heritage financed by EEA grants from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as well as by national funds.
Łukasz Kowalski, Tadeusz Przystojecki