TORSBY – Nestled in the forest outside Torsby in Sweden, an old school has been transformed by Bornstein Lyckefors to house the new museum dedicated to slash-and-burn agriculture. Finnish migrants – nicknamed Forest Finns – settled in the Swedish woodlands in the early 1600s and pursued slash-and-burn agriculture: a self-sufficient farming method that requires the cutting or burning of sections of forest to produce fields for growing food.
The Finns’ building techniques, crafts, history, traditions and folklore permeate the Torsby Finnskogscentrum. Clad with wood logs, architect Andreas Lyckefors explains this material choice: ‘We wanted the building to communicate the Finn culture nearly as clearly as an expression mark.’
Painted in black, the school silhouette is vaguely noticeable behind the curtain of standing timbers. Alluding to the traditional slash-and-burn methods, 300 hundred wood logs that were sourced from the surrounding forest are mounted on a steel rack, dressing the outside of entire building. Untreated, the logs are allowed to age simultaneously over time, adding character to the museum. Added to the façades are protruding wooden boxes, which serve as benches and provide space for artwork as well as framing the school windows to allow light to filter in.
Inside, various exhibition spaces are designed to pay tribute to the cultural heritage of the Forest Finns. Walls are clad in wood and painted halfway with a black gradation symbolising the ash-coloured traces formed by rising smoke in the migrants’ cabins. Printed carpet covers another exhibition space within the building, visualising the slash-and-burn technique with its charred ground effect. In the same space, mirrors and laser-cut coloured strips adorn the walls, giving an illusion of infinity and depth while imitating the feeling of being in a forest.