The Kauppila farm is a monument of south-west Finnish vernacular building tradition and museum of agricultural life. The farm is preserved in situ at its original location in the medieval village of Koukkela.
The oldest buildings in the farm complex date back to the 17th century. The farm was owned by the Kauppila family for over 200 years, and remained inhabited until the 1950ies. The last owners, Aarne and Martta Kauppila, donated the farm to the City of Laitila in 1971, and it was opened as a museum in 1975. The National Bureau of Antiquities led its restoration.
The museum area is a cultural landscape, formed by traditional methods of building and utilizing the land. Old paths circle cross meadows, pastures and vegetable patches, passing by traditional fences, and many kinds of outhouses before reaching the enclosed courtyard. Closed courtyards, surrounded by buildings on all sides, used to be a common way to build houses in this region. Today, Kauppila remains one of just a few preserved examples of this building tradition. This is why it has been listed as a cultural environment of national value.
All in all, the Kauppila complex consists of nearly twenty buildings including stables, storehouses, cattle-sheds, stone cellars, a smoke sauna and a riihi barn for smoke-drying grain. Some of the outhouses have been moved here from other villages to replace buildings that have earlier been lost.
Today, Kauppila functions as a living museum. The landscape is tended by sheep and the museum hosts popular events during the summer season. The museum interiors display life on the farm in the early 20th century. The museum is owned and run by the City of Laitila.
The wooden buildings of Kauppila farm need constant maintenance and many of them have fallen into disrepair. The core problems almost always circle around the decomposition of the building materials due to exposition to moisture. Many of the buildings at Kauppila farm have roofs made of thin wooden shingles (“päre”) which have a particularly limited life span. An important feature of the cultural landscape are also the traditional spruce fences (“riukuaita”), which are made from split trunks of young spruce trees, which are tied together with spruce branches.
The maintenance of wooden architecture requires constant renewal of building materials and knowledge of traditional skills and materials. During the project, the volunteers have been able to experience and learn about the methods and challenges of preserving traditional wooden architecture in the north. In particular, they learned to repair and renew wood shingle roofs and the method of building traditional fences from young spruce trunks.
The main building of Kauppila farm is painted with a red paint that is characteristic for the North, especially for Finland and Sweden. The water-based red paint has been easy to cook from mostly basic household materials, with only pigment added. It is very well-suited for wooden surfaces as it does not form a dense layer. Within the framework of the project, the participants learned how to produce the red paint, cooking it over an open fire for several hours, and repaint the main building.
The project has been organised by the Regional Museum of Finland Proper and the City of Laitila, in partnership with European Heritage Volunteers.