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.