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RECONSTRUCTIONS IN MODERN TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY

Valdas VAINILAITIS, Oksana VALIONIENĖ

 

This article attempts to find a connection between modem traditionalist architecture and urban archaeology. One of the contact points of architecture and archaeology is the reconstruction of old buildings. During archaeological studies, traces of wooden buildings, which have survived fairly well, are found only in damp, boggy places in Vilnius (fig. 21). Because wooden houses are becoming ever more popular at the present time, historical urban wooden buildings were selected as an interesting research object. Contemporary urban wooden structures are being designed fairly eclectically, i.e. without following any stylistic integrity or historical traditions but by instead using the rural ethnographical style.

Essential differences in rural and urban buildings had already formed in Lithuania in the fourteenth century. For example, Vilnius, from its very founding, was fashioned as an urbanised settlement with a specific infrastructure characteristic to cities. The differences in urban and rural wooden buildings are also reflected in the construction, function, and spatial structure of the buildings.

At the turn of the sixteenth century when the state had already been joined to Christian Europe for a century and had also experienced a period of relative peace, the city was becoming ever more cosmopolitan. European residential (including brick building) traditions were absorbed from neighbouring lands (Poland and Germany). It was expensive for the majority of the city's residents to build brick houses. Even after mass construction using bricks began, Lithuania's cities remained wooden for the most part. The reason for this was the abundance and cheapness of wood. In spite of this, the owners of wooden houses, wanting their living conditions to approach those of the city's elite, used brick architectural standards when building wooden houses.

Urban wooden buildings were influenced by both rural folk traditions and specific urban features and were also affected by the adjacent brick architecture but wooden structures in towns were more affected by specific urban factors than the rural construction tradition. As a consequence of this process, wooden urban buildings came to be more like brick houses than country cottages.

On the basis of fragments of wooden constructions that have been found, it is possible to make fairly reliable reconstructions. The article discusses the views of an architect and an archaeologist on the possibilities of constructing old wooden buildings, the differences in the reconstruction process, the accuracy of the re-creation, and the possibilities of employing old wooden construction elements in modern wooden architecture.

Reconstructions based on a planned structure, dimensions, and authentic artefacts, which have been compiled systematically according to construction, ergonomie, etc logic, allows one to re-create a reliable (generalised or abstract) image, to explain it, to trace its development, and to imagine the environment and domestic life. Scientifically-based reconstructions have an educational and practical significance; they can provide a basis for the consumer, in this case architects, to design buildings while both maintaining the integrity of the historical style and integrating individual elements of old wooden architecture into contemporary buildings without deviating from the very concept of traditionalism in architecture.