Deciphering Roof Trusses – Exploring Medieval Wooden Structures

small exhibition hall


The wooden building heritage preserved from the Middle Ages in Finland is hidden within the roof structures of less than twenty stone churches. The roof trusses are a unique source material, telling about medieval wooden construction, and a part of our country’s medieval built cultural heritage – while also being still-functioning load-bearing structures. They have lasted for more than half a millennium and are a superb example of immeasurably long-lasting and sustainable building construction. From the structures one can get an understanding of how they were built, how the church building sites operated, and how the local community was involved in the construction process. They also tell about the worldviews and beliefs of the medieval person and how structural innovations that developed in Central Europe travelled to the northern periphery of Europe.

The exhibition Deciphering Roof Trusses presents the world of roof trusses hidden beneath medieval shingle roofs and the work of the research team exploring them. In addition to texts and illustrations, the exhibition also includes scale models as well as a film and other material illustrating the everyday life of field work.

Exhibition team

The exhibition is curated by architect and Assistant Professor Panu Savolainen. The exhibition team additionally includes Ilari Aalto, Franziska Dalheimer, Marko Huttunen, Laura Laine, Jan Mustonen, Mia Puranen, Lauri Saarinen, Pauliina Saarinen, Antti Seppänen, Liisa Seppänen ja Miina Tolonen.

The exhibition is based on the research and restoration work on these structures carried out by Livady Architects since 2007, as well as Aalto University’s project Medieval Wooden Building Heritage in Finland: Roof Structures of Stone Churches, the Construction Process and Construction Innovations launched in 2020. The research team includes the researchers Ilari Aalto, Vivi Deckwirth, Antti Haikala, Marko Huttunen, Laura Laine, Marianna Niukkanen, Mia Puranen, Lauri Saarinen, Pauliina Saarinen, Panu Savolainen, Liisa Seppänen ja Miina Tolonen.