Report No. 8

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Handbook for Building a Root Cellar

This report is about the art of building a vaulted root cellar. The project Traditional Wooden and Masonry Structures in the Baltic Sea Region is designed for students of architectural conservation, conservation of artefacts, structural engineering and site management from three universities in Sweden, Estonia and Finland in order to give them the opportunity to learn about the traditional materials in different parts of buildings.

From the conservation point of view they learn how constructions and surfaces made of these materials are to be preserved in the best manner—more reports and views of the hands–on activities at various historic sites at www.sustainableheritage.eu—every course has had a different theme and they have been hosted by the three universities in turns. Students have been taught by expert craftsmen and given an academic background to each topic by teachers of the involved institutions. In addition to the pedagogical goals we cherish an idealistic wish that the performed hands–on work should contribute to the rescue and maintenance of our built heritage. This time the traditions were tested by constructing a brick vault on a new root cellar. The understanding and experience of vaulting technique should come handy in many restoration jobs.

Images and Figures
Tables and Glossaries


The need and technique of storing foodstuffs varied traditionally from one climate to another – but today we are free from the natural limits of seasons and harvesting times thanks to all the modern electric appliances in every standard kitchen. However, the desire to live in harmony with nature and to eat healthy has reawakened the interest in traditions not only by the stove but also in the vegetable garden and in storage buildings of the good old times. There is also a growing worldwide trend to make new root cellars according to traditional principles. A perfectly good way of keeping the harvest edible through the winter is thus put into practice without electricity.

In the report a specification for building a vaulted root cellar runs parallel with the description of work and experiences on the Sustainable Heritage intensive course at Novia University of Applied Sciences in September 2014.

Handbook for Building a Root Cellar; Sustainable Heritage Report No. 8 / Kirsti Horn (ed.)

– Yrkeshögskolan Novia, Vasa, Finland: Traditional Wooden and Masonry Structures in the Baltic Sea Region, Sustainable Heritage reports, 1/2016
ISBN (PDF): 978-952-7048-36-8; ISSN (online): 1799-4179