From crisis housing to cultural heritage. The changing views on exported Finnish wooden houses from the post-war decades

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The paper deals with the question of what can be deemed as a cultural heritage and what role citizen activism can have in the process. The paper is based on initial research for the Housing, prefabrication and export – the architecture of reconstruction in times of crisis (HoPE) project. HoPE examines the history of the
Finnish prefabricated houses, which were exported globally during the post-war decades. The houses were originally meant as temporary shelter in reconstruction after crisis, as war and natural disasters, but many areas still exist today, as in the neighbourhood Jazdów in Warsaw, Poland. In 1945, the Soviet Union relocated 407 Finnish wooden houses, originally received as war reparations from Finland to
the USSR, to reconstruct the badly damaged area in Warsaw. For the inhabitants, the houses first represented the occupying forces, but in time they became a part of the local identity. When the city of Warsaw recently planned to demolish the area to re-plan it, a local movement to claim the housing area as a cultural heritage started, preserving Jazdów for the future. Israel traded directly with Finland after the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948. The houses were mainly imported in the early 1950s to shelter the vast number of Jewish refugees who came to Israel after the
Holocaust or fled from countries in the Middle East. The impoverished newcomers were housed in transit camps built from imported houses or sent to new neighborhoods or to rural settlements meant for the refugees. Thus, many of the Finnish houses became the first step of integration into the Israeli society.
Based on texts and data on the housing in both Poland and Israel, the paper discusses when mass-produced, foreign structures can become cultural heritage. The aim of the paper is to examine possibilities in expanding the content of concepts as cultural heritage and architecture in city planning. Furthermore, the need for expanding the borders of architectural research is discussed. When dealing with prefabricated
housing in the HoPE-project, it becomes clear that seemingly uninteresting structures and areas can have an important history, despite their lack of formal architectural values. In this case, imported, mass-produced architecture represents history and ideologies from the late 20th century. If these houses are not considered
relevant because of their aesthetic values, the story of these communities might become lost in demolition.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationIstanbul
PublisherDRUM Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-4478-0514-4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2023
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventVIII AACCP (Architecture, Archaeology and Contemporary City Planning) Symposium CITIES IN EVOLUTION: DIACHRONIC TRANSFORMATIONS OF URBAN AND RURAL SETTLEMENTS - Dynamic Research on Urban Morphology-DRUM laboratory, Özyeğin University, Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 26 Apr 20212 May 2021


ConferenceVIII AACCP (Architecture, Archaeology and Contemporary City Planning) Symposium CITIES IN EVOLUTION
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