Unit 2-3F: (Nordic) Vernacular Workshop
Turf House | 1800s
The Faroe Island turf house is a vernacular typology which developed from the harsh weather conditions combined with the availability of local materials. The farmstead was a small cluster of buildings comprising a living residence, ‘séthús’, surrounded by utility buildings housing stock, stables and workshops. Villages or ‘bygder’ were often located on hillsides close to streams and freshwater supplies. Due to the topography of the islands, communities were small and remote, increasing the need for self-sufficiency.
The small farms merged into the terrain, which provided heat and protection from the harsh environment. The ‘roykstova’ [smoke room] is the essential part of the Faroese living residence as it was the only one containing a hearth or fireplace. The dark ‘roykstova’ was later fronted by the unheated ‘glasstova’ [window room] which provided a light and cool living residence in the summer.
The cold weather combined with wind and saline air made it impossible for trees to grow on the Faroes. The dwellings mainly consisted of stones, turf and driftwood. One of the benefits of using driftwood is that it is less receptive to insect infestation and fire compared to other types of wood accessible at that time.
A thick stonewall covered the outside of the interior timber structure. In well-off households the inside was clad in wood; else, the walls were covered by soil. The massive exterior walls were made from stacking stones without any binding material; instead, the natural occurring holes between the stones were filled with turf, which helped with the isolation and storing heat.
The layers of a sustainable roof
Exploring the construction and materials potentials of a tradition sod roof
The sod roof of the Faroe Islands turf house, is one of its fundamental sustainability principles, using layers of natural materials to form a massive and thermal insulating protecting layer which blends into the environment. This contemporary example uses this technique aesthetically but without the robustness of the original methods. For example, the angles of the roof change the properties of the construction as well as the layer of soil being much less than would be seen in a traditional sod roof. This results in a roof construction which requires much more maintenance than that of its predecessor, which was a successful and sustainable construction technique due to the durability of it.
Town Hall Eysturkommuna / Henning Larsen
Nordragota, Faroe Islands | 2018
Sitting in a landscape
Understanding the positioning of a building within its context
The wall layers of the Faroe Islands turf house make good use of the potentials of the site as protection from the elements as well as the limited available materials such as using sod and stones as a building material. Driftwood is used sparingly as structural elements and interior finishing, while rocks, dirt and sod are used to form massive walls which create a thermal barrier to the harsh climate. Through this, the threshold between the building and nature is blurred. This contemporary example places the structure low in the landscape, making use of the natural topography to protect the building. Combined with staggered grass roofs, this building blends the visual markers between nature and built form both internally and from the outside.
Hotel Fóroyar / Friis & Moltke
Tórshavn, Faroe Islands| 1983
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