Cordwood House

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Yesterday I joined my friend Dendro-Åke, his cousin and their charming wives to check out an example of an old exotic building technique near my home. On Skutudden Point near Baggensstäket (an area I keep writing about, it’s just full of history) are a number of little 19th century buildings along the shore, and at least one of them is a cordwood house, Sw. kubbhus. This building method enjoyed some popularity in Sweden (and a much greater one in Norway) in the 19th century and until the end of WW1. It’s a bit like brick masonry, only you use cordwood instead of bricks and clay daub instead of mortar. And you always orientate the wood perpendicular to the wall.

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The cordwood house on Skutudden is severely damaged from neglect, being an outhouse to a deserted building owned by the council which has neither a road to it nor a jetty. The roof has long since been penetrated by rot, and when that happens a house is doomed unless you do something quickly. Getting it into shape would be costly and involve changing a lot of the structural timber immediately. It would also, I’m afraid, be pretty pointless. Unused buildings rarely survive for long. So the cordwood house won’t be there much longer. But we got some photographs.

Having dug & cleaned a lot of burnt Iron Age wall daub, I can see that when one of these cordwood structures burns, it must produce great numbers of highly characteristic daub fragments. Which I hope I will never have to clean.

Comments

  1. #1 speedwell
    September 14, 2009

    Monolingual English speakers may want to check out cordwoodmasonry.com for more information on how and why cordwood houses work and stay warm even in the coldest climates.

  2. #2 Pierce R. Butler
    September 14, 2009

    Then, at night, the termites come…

  3. #3 Lars-Åke Larsson
    September 14, 2009

    My cousin has spent quite a lot of time on collecting information about these cordwood houses. Here is a link to some of that material:
    http://www.cybis.se/forfun/kubbhus/indexe.htm
    All of the text is in Swedish, though there are a number of pictures which probably speak a lot for themselves.
    /Lars-Åke

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