The Outbuilding Project
Røros in central Norway has been a World Heritage Site since 1980. It is a former copper-mining town, comprising a large number of original (18th and 19th century) timber-built houses and their outbuildings, which supported systems of urban agriculture employed by the original miner occupants. This project is about the restoration and maintenance of the outbuildings specifically. The original farming activities have disappeared and as a result the outbuildings had lost their purpose and were falling into decay.
What is unusual about the project is the responsibility given to individual craftspeople for the implementation of repairs. The project leader, partly employed by the municipality, deals with the owner and selects the practitioner most suited to the particular issues raised by each property. The craftsperson thereafter suggests possible solutions on how to restore the buildings, and is responsible for the restoration works. Meetings between the craftspeople and the local museum are held regularly to discuss issues of conservation at both an academic and practical level: skills are shared, methodologies exchanged and costs compared. The result has been not only a successful restoration exercise covering 400 buildings since 1996, but also the development of a local but highly qualified group of restorers.
The decision to restore these outbuildings followed the recommendations of ICOMOS. What commended the project to the Jury was the excellent relations established between the state, the municipality and the house owners. The project turned into a platform for self-employed craftspeople linked to an actual ongoing restoration and it has functioned as a training hub for a variety of crafts and skills. Through this and the applied research the project has gained international repute and visibility.