University of Gothenburg

Building crafts

The Craft Laboratory develops knowledge and documents good practices in traditional crafts and materials for sustainable solutions, all in collaboration with professionals and researchers in built heritage. The collaboration involves universities, heritage authorities and associations, small and medium-sized enterprises, and entrepreneurs in the field of heritage preservation and circular economy.

Our research areas


The Craft Laboratory's projects within iron and blacksmithing are focused on tool forging and architecture-related iron, as well as the history and maintenance of iron sheet roofs.

Concrete buildings structures

The Craft Laboratory has investigated concrete and its uses in historic buildings. The values of the modern built heritage have been brought forward in society, and the restoration and maintenance require appropriate craft skills. In collaboration with Chalmers University of TechnologyRISE Research Institutes of Sweden and the Swedish Royal Academy for Arts and Architecture, the Craft Laboratory has researched historic concrete buildings and building techniques and developed instructions for diagnosis, restoration, and maintenance. 


The Craft Laboratory’s projects have investigated and developed craft instructions for chimneys, tile ovens and fireplaces, vault geometry, decorative façade plastering, store house masonry and traditional dry stone fencing. Our continuous research and development work concerns traditional lime mortar production, including selection of lime stones, burning and slaking methods, mixtures and plastering application. 

Dry stone

Dry stone constructions, such as walls in cultural landscapes and around cemeteries, is one of the Craft Laboratory’s research areas. We also document the of knowledge in roofing using stone slates.

Photo: Linda Lindblad

Networks for craft professionals

Meeting and exchanging experiences is important for developing new knowledge and for identifying needs for future research.

The Craft Laboratory coordinates networks for craft professionals within our main focus areas: building crafts, cultural landscapes and gardening crafts.


Roofing is essential in safeguarding historic buildings. In collaboration with the national and regional heritage boards, the Craft Laboratory has investigated traditional roofing materials and developed good practice instructions for renovation and maintenance. Among the roofing types are roof tiles, stone and wood shingles, and metal sheets.  

Photo: Anna Johansson


For several years, the Craft Laboratory has been working on issues related to the supply, quality and production of tar. There is at least a 1000-year tradition in the Nordic countries of producing and using tar from Pinus sylvestris on wood buildings. After the Second World War, the tar tradition declined, but there are many buildings that still need to be maintained by tarring at relatively frequent intervals. 

Photo: Arja Källbom

Traditional paint

Paint in traditional buildings is a broad field of knowledge. The Craft Laboratory aims to gain in-depth knowledge of paint materials, and the related painting craft and maintenance. Recent larger research projects has deepened knowledge on anticorrosive paint with linseed oil binders and on traditional tar on wooden roofs. Smaller research projects has been carried out on casein, silicate, and lime glue paints, and on traditional painting methods with stencils.  

Wood and timber

The Craft Laboratory has a strong focus on wood and carpentry. Our projects have dealt with corner timber buildings and crafts, medieval wooden buildings, stave churches, timber framing, tools and procedures in carpentry, and particular construction elements like trusses and framed doors. Ongoing projects look at quality assessment and classification of wood for historic building restoration and maintenance, involving forest management plans for the purpose of producing materials for cultural heritage needs. 

Deepen your knowledge

The Department of Conservation offers study programmes in building crafts on bachelor's level (in Swedish) and on master’s level. The International Master´s Programme in Conservation is designed to deepen your knowledge about the multiple layers of meaning of cultural heritage, and offers a great deal of flexibility if you are interested in specialising in building crafts.