Search graduate:

Minni Tang

  • Faculty of Art and Culture
  • Cultural Heritage and Conservation
  • BA
  • Relocating Building Heritage. Creation of decision trees.
  • Tutor: Maris Mändel
  • Written thesis
  • 100 pages (53 + appendix)

The aim of this thesis is to give an overview of the history of building relocation and about current practises all over the world. The aim of this research is to find solutions on how to improve the current architectural heritage relocation practise in Estonia. I chose this topic due to lack of research and documentation in this field (in Estonian). Throughout this paper a lot of publications are referred to, but to mention a few: R. Alatalu Doctor thesis “Heritage Protection in Transitional Society”, K. Konsa “Laulupidu ja Verivorst”, J. Jokilehto “The History of Conservation”, J. Gregory “Reconsidering Relocated Buildings”, H. Kozlu & F. Dördüncü “Moving Techniques for Traditional Buildings as An Architectural Preservation Method”, and the legislation of Estonia. 

People have been relocating buildings throughout history, from the beginning of time. In Estonia, people are accustomed to the idea of relocating log houses, in other countries, big buildings made from stone or even whole cities are relocated. The reasons can vary from very pragmatic (e.g. move of househould) to the salvation of the house due to a natural disaster. Starting from the 18th century, society started to value architectural design and history of the houses, which led to an increase in relocations. During the 19th century, culminating in the 20th century, people started to see how the relocation of a building can damage its fabric and value, especially the connection with its surroundings. Different charters and laws were created to prohibit the move of monuments. The most influential charter in this field is the Venice Charter created by ICOMOS in 1964. 

There are different methods for moving a building. When talking about relocating intact, it is possible to move building by tracks, sliding technique, or with trucks and trailers. There are two options to move objects part by part, disassemble the building or dismantle its components. The relocation of a building has a major negative impact to its fabric and value. On the contrary, it is then possible to examine building’s construction thoroughly and carry out archaeological research. 

Main possible values (or a combination of those) of heritage building can be its architecture, fabric, usage, or the connection with its surroundings. The first decision tree created in connection with this thesis, Validating the Values and Suggested Method of Building Relocation helps to validate these values (or the combination of those). Moreover, when it comes to planning the relocation, the mentioned decision tree helps to choose the right method for the relocation. These options are relocating the building (or parts of it), implementing an adaptive reuse, building a copy to a new location, or relocating the intangible. Transitioning the building’s physical body to intangible medium could mean creating a digital reconstruction, a model, written documentation, or any other medium that can prolong building’s life. The latter methods are suggested in the second decision tree, which is called Relocating the Intangible Medium. When the first decision tree suggests the relocation of the building, it is then possible to use the third tree, which is Decision Tree for Relocating the Tangible Medium. This suggests whether to relocate the building intact, by disassembling it, or relocating only a part. 

In addition, it is also strongly suggested to think of the project’s financial side, the size and capacity of the relocatable object, the distance between the location, and the accessibility and involvement of the experts. To validate these decision trees, I experimented and tested them hypothetically with different historical monuments, especially with Tallinn Airport’s Old Terminal. The terminal was built in 1955 and it represents a merge of Representative Functionalism and Stalinism (Socialist Classicism). It is now in a process of receiving national monument status, but due to the extensive development plan of Tallinn Airport, discussions are being held on the relocation of this building.

I conducted two qualitative interviews, one with Anni Martin, Head of Historical Monuments in the National Heritage Board and the second with Tõnu Mühle, Head of Infrastructure in Tallinn Airport. It was concluded that the suggested methods, depending on the new chosen location of the airport’s old terminal building, are to relocate the building intact, build a copy (in a reconstructive way), or implement an adaptive reuse. Both participants also admitted that, with the use of decision trees, the communication and cooperation between the two parties (monument’s owner and the official) would definitely improve and they foresee a bright future for these.The relocation of buildings, though lacking the documentation in Estonian, has always been a relevant topic, but on the other hand a problematic one. I believe that the implementation of different mind maps and decision trees is a good starting point to solve the problematic side of this topic. It improves the communication between different parties and helps considering and thinking the project through, properly. In addition, sharing the knowledge acquired from this thesis helps to improve the current architectural relocation practise in Estonia.