Protecting Timber-Framed Buildings : Collegiate Church, Castle, and the Old Town of Quedlinburg

The city of Quedlinburg is located in a richly-wooded area of Central Germany. Wealthy town merchants in the 15th century exerted their influence and ultimately demanded independence for the city. The King outlawed construction of any stone buildings in a bid to curb their growing power. Quedlinburg thus became a city of wooden buildings. It still has over 1,200 timber-framed houses. This is the oldest one remaining. It was built around 1300 and has been carefully preserved. Some old houses are slightly distorted with age but they are brimming with character and charm.

However, after several hundred years of use many are in need of repair. A foundation was established in the year 2,000 to restore and maintain the old wooden houses. Young people aged between 17 and 27 are learning restoration techniques in this centre. Skilled craftsmen teach them the basics over a one-year course. Restoration materials are stored in the municipal warehouse. There are more than 1,000 different kinds of doors stored here. Timber and carvings have been retrieved from derelict houses for re-use. The house under renovation here was built around 1800. The same kind of clay is used for the restoration and applied by hand just as it was two centuries ago.

Traditional know-how is being passed on . It takes about 4 years to restore one house. Professional craftsmen would finish it in half the time, but teaching restoration means extra time is necessary. More than 70% of the trainees pursue a career in restoration work or architecture after the one-year training. This town of old timber-framed houses is a training ground ensuring traditional techniques pass down from generation to generation.

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