Røros is a small wooden town situated in a highland area some 160 km from Trondheim. The town developed through the 1600’s due to copper ore finds in the nearby area. As the region was almost uninhabited, it was necessary to plan a complete urban micro-community in order to provide necessary service and living conditions for the workers and the administration of the copper mines and smelting works.
In order to survive in the remote and extremely cold area all inhabitants had to do farming in combination with the mining and smelting work. Thus the entire built-up pattern of Røros is characterized by tightly organized farm courtyards, including all types of buildings expected to be found in an ordinary farm, only here they are found in an urban setting.
Today despite both the farming and the mining having closed down, Røros has managed to continue as a thriving local community, with tourism based on the well-preserved timber-built historic environment as a major business attraction.
Since the early 1900’s, national conservation authorities have paid attention to Røros, which was not always appreciated by the local community who did not want anybody to interfere with their development plans. Considerable national resources have been allocated for the preservation of the existing building stock, especially since Røros was included in the UNESCO World heritage List in 1980.
Obviously conservation of a living urban community, like Røros, represents challenges. The inhabitants have the same needs for comfort and functionality as others, while the management of a World Heritage Site requires strict rules on interventions and change to the built environment.
Another challenge is the lack of skilled craftsmen necessary for the restoration of historic timber buildings. In this context, Røros has placed tremendous effort on training craftsmen specializing in several traditional crafts, through the municipal training program “The Outbuilding Project” which has run since 1994. In addition, the Building Conservation Centre at Røros offers specialized staff for repair work on historic timber structure, both at Røros and elsewhere.
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