Timber Architecture in Eastern Europe
Timber architecture enjoys a long tradition in Eastern Europe due to the huge wealth of timber available in the region. About 98 % of the buildings are constructed of untreated pine wood in block-construction technique, a tradition which survived well into the 20th century. The characteristic architectural language of Russian churches; the onion domes and roof lines, are direct responses to this construction system. In spite of the complexity of Russian timber construction a vernacular simplicity is evident, requiring a vast degree of skill and care which is, unfortunately, not always present. Particular architectural forms have, in fact, been developed to a point of excellence. It is one thing to determine the architectural form of a building with timber framing, the advantages of block construction techniques, however, lie in the ability to create arches and curves. Russia’s most inspiring architectural symbol, the onion dome, is in fact constructed in exactly the same way as its supporting walls. Short beams are mounted over an octagonal plan and brought up to form a peak, while the ridges are smoothed with an axe. But not until the shingles are applied does the dome develop its distinctive image. Some of the simplest techniques of wooden handwork are employed in order to create one of the most complicated yet succinct architectural forms in timber construction.