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Reinventing Fiskars Village


Bell, EK, Reinventing Fiskars Village, History in Practice: Proceedings of the 25th International SAHANZ Conference, 3-6 July 2008, Geelong, Australia, pp. 1-19. ISBN 978-0-9581925-4-5 (2008) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Copyright 2008 SAHANZ

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Fiskars, 90 kilometres west of Helsinki, Finland, offers a intriguing case study of the architectural and social transformation of a fading industrial village into a thriving community and tourist destination. Fiskars was from the mid-17th century a centre for iron production. In the 19th century, this ‘company town’ consisted of advanced iron working facilities, housing for all levels of workers, and elaborate farming buildings for progressive animal husbandry. Substantial neoclassical ‘Empire style’ buildings were designed by prominent architects, including Carl Ludwig Engel, Pehr Granstedt and Waldemar Aspelin. More or less externally intact, many buildings survived through the twentieth century. Declining industrial and agricultural production threatened Fiskars’ community and architecture from the 1960s. Large numbers of buildings were left empty as industry and people vacated the community. From the mid–1980s, a concerted effort by the Fiskars Company resulted in reinvigoration of the village through attracting a new creative cultural capital, under the motto of ‘A Living Ironworks Village.’ With effective strategies of adaptive reuse, coupled with comparatively stringent heritage regulations, the full range of buildings was revitalised. An artists and designers co-operative was established, together with an active exhibition program. Housing and studios, shops selling Finnish design (including the global Fiskars brand products), exhibition facilities, small cafes and restaurants now accommodate a productive artistic community and established tourist clientele. In 2007, Fiskars village received the European Royal Destination Award for Sustainable Tourism. Not all Fiskars buildings are historical residue, though the new structures designed by architects – generally houses and/or studios – usually draw on historical models of the local ‘folk’ typology of 19th century workers’ accommodation. A few exceptions are clearly, and somewhat controversially, contemporary in design. This paper examines the nexus between the authentic, the salvaged and the invented in the architectural adaptation and reinvention of the Fiskars village.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural design
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in built environment and design
UTAS Author:Bell, EK (Dr Eugenie Keefer Bell)
ID Code:94849
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2014-09-18
Last Modified:2014-10-22

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