Restoring things the old fashioned way

In the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen, there is a historic portion of the harbour known as Bryggen. Bergen was established as a centre of trade in the 12th century.  In 1350 the Hanseatic League (a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds) established a “Hanseatic Office” in Bergen. Bryggen is medieval in origin, with the buildings providing living quarters, offices, and storage for trades, particularly in stockfish. Bryggen has been destroyed by fires over the centuries, and has been rebuilt every time using the same plan and building techniques.

Bryggen was declared a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1979. Many of the buildings in this vintage complex of 62 buildings are slowly sinking into the ground, at the rate of 8mm per year, which makes from some interesting architectural lines. The houses are built using traditional log construction, and galleries with column and beam construction with horizontal wooden panel cladding.

Cross-section of the building being restored.

The buildings are slowly being restored, but one of the conditions of this process is that traditional handcraft techniques are used, and only the same tools can be used as those used when Bryggen was rebuilt after the city fire of 1702.

Work progressing on the ground floor (the restoration is open for viewing)

The wall construction is quite interesting. Both inner and some of the outer walls seem to be constructed of planks, of varying heights. The inner wall plans seem to be joined together using a Swedish style cope. The outer walls use a Scandinavian notch (or Norway notch), with the wall elements likely additionally held together with wooden pins.

New construction interior walls vs. historic outer walls



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