International Log Building Conference in Räpina

For the first time in Estonia, the international conference “Revitalizing Heritage” focused on the field of log building, bringing together top specialists from around the world. The conference was boosted by the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024, highlighting Estonia’s rich cultural heritage and traditional building arts.

The conference took place on May 23-24 in the Hobbiton production hall in Räpina, known as one of Europe’s leading handcrafted log house manufacturers. This provided participants with a unique opportunity to experience the world of log building firsthand in an inspiring and authentic setting.

Rahvusvaheline palkehituse konverents: Taaselustades pärandit 23.-24.mail Räpinas. Hobbitoni tootmise tuur osalejatele. Foto: Mikk Otsar
International Log Building Conference: Revitalizing Heritage in Räpina, Estonia. Photo by Mikk Otsar

One of the program’s highlights was undoubtedly the presentation on the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral by Jackson DuBois and Miles Jenness from the USA. This significant cultural restoration project provided participants with an invaluable opportunity to hear how to apply traditional building techniques, various approaches, and practices in the restoration of major cultural monuments. The presentation also offered insights into the personal journey of the craftsmen involved in this world-famous project. Many of us may not have known that our own Estonian master, Andres Uus, a founding member of the Vanaajamaja Competence Center and an advisor on log building restoration, was also a part of this historical project.

International Log Building Conference: Revitalizing Heritage (23-24 MAY 2024) in Räpina, Estonia. Presentation by Jackson Dubois (Timber Framers Guild). Photo by Mikk Otsar
International Log Building Conference: Revitalizing Heritage; Jackson Dubois (USA). Photo by Mikk Otsar

In addition to the Notre Dame restoration, the conference covered the history and development of log building, various technical challenges in traditional construction, sustainable and ecological building practices, and future prospects for log building. Räpina and its surroundings offered excellent opportunities for practical workshops and visits, where participants could hone their skills in traditional building techniques or visit wooden structures erected by Estonian builders. The week and activities dedicated to wooden building heritage concluded with the international log house builders’ competition in the heart of Räpina’s manor park, where Madis Jaaska (Hobbiton OÜ) was crowned the best log house builder for the third time.

Annika Kadaja, CEO of the Estonian Woodhouse Association, considered the events a great success. “The conference and various associated events provided an excellent opportunity for networking and exchanging experiences. Participants could meet colleagues and wooden construction experts from around the world, creating new contacts and strengthening existing ones. The first-ever international log building conference in Estonia was a great opportunity to highlight Estonia’s rich log building tradition and showcase our skills and achievements in this field.” Kadaja added that as organizers, they are pleased to have facilitated the exchange of knowledge and experiences, strengthening the ties within the log building community both in Estonia and internationally.

“Being part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 significantly contributed to preserving our cultural heritage and promoting log building, emphasizing the importance of traditional construction art in the modern world. Our week of events, including the conference, championship, and workshops-seminars, was a significant step in introducing and valuing Estonian culture,” added Ragner Lõbu, member of the board of Hobbiton OÜ, in summarizing the conference.

Photos of the conference (Photo credits: Mikk Otsar): International Log Building Conference: Revitalizing Heritage

Photos of the competition (Photo credits: Mikk Otsar): Competition for Handcrafted Log House Builders (©Mikk Otsar)