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Surveys of cultural environment

Surveys of the cultural environment

A cultural environment is a man-made environment that expresses the architectural and cultural-historical values of its own region. These values tell about the history and development of the locality, reflected in the present day of the area. The cultural environment is a key part of the local identity and development potential of cities and municipalities.

A well-maintained and valued cultural environment is an attraction factor that helps to build a special local character in planning projects.

Studies on diverse land use planning and the cultural environment

We prepare various reports related to land use planning, including studies on cultural environments.  Sweco’s cultural environment experts have several decades of experience in preparing reports from all over Finland. Our experts also have experience  in town planning, so they are able to assess the significance of the cultural environment in connection with planning planning. The scale of the surveys has varied from municipality-wide inventories of hundreds of sites to documentation of small individual sites.  Regardless of the scale, every assignment is handled with high quality and expertise.

Studies of the built cultural environment

The purpose of surveys of the built cultural environment is to produce background information on land use planning, with the help of which the built cultural environment can be well taken into account when drawing up the plan. The surveys are always applied to the client’s needs and take into account the scale of zoning.

We always prepare clear and concise reports for the client. The report highlights the cultural history of the areas to be investigated and the architectural heritage of the area. The report presents the value areas and sites located in the area and gives recommendations for taking them into account. The survey report includes image and map data illustrating the results, showing the development, characteristics and values of the built environment in the study area.

The sites and areas to be taken into account in the survey are inventoried on site. In the terrain, areas and objects are photographed and their typical features are documented. In connection with the surveys, the current state and characteristics of the sites, their relationship to their environment, their location in the landscape and urban structure are examined, and the properties that have changed or been demolished are identified. In the inventory of sites, special attention is paid to the characteristics of the built cultural environment in general in the study areas and to special characteristics typical of the area and/or locally.

The survey material will be compiled in its entirety as part of the report. Based on the field work, we prepare descriptions of areas and sites for the survey and highlight their typical characteristics and values. For buildings, sites and areas considered culturally and historically valuable, we will make a proposal for a zoning marking.

Based on the inventory, we also carry out preliminary valuation of the sites. The aim is to identify the cultural-historical characteristics of areas and sites in relation to the wider cultural environment of both the plan area and the local area, the history of the building type or historical phenomenon. The valuation is often carried out in cooperation with the local provincial museum, and the results of the valuation are utilised when examining the conservation markings in town planning. It is often customary to arrange a valuation meeting, where objects that have been preliminarily identified as valuable are reviewed together with the museum, representatives of municipalities and cities, and their values and significance are discussed.

Building history surveys

The purpose of the Building History Report (RHS) is to answer the questions “What is the building like?” and “Why is it the way it is?“. The RHS describes the history and current state of the object, exploring the relationship between them. At the same time, it is a story about the history of the object. The report includes an analysis of what is valuable, cherished and protected. It is an objectively prepared decision-supporting study that helps to understand the building as it is. Building history reports are typically drawn up when the aim is to determine the values of a building based on conservation decisions in planning work or in connection with building renovations. The report prepared for the renovation indicates the features and details of the building that must be taken into account in the planning and implementation of the renovation.

Surveys of the building’s characteristics

In the Building Characteristics Survey, we collect information on the properties and special characteristics of the site as required by legislation. In the survey, we map and value the characteristics of the site that are related to architectural, historical or environmental values. It is a lighter report than a building history survey, which we utilise, for example, when considering the demolition of a building. The focus of the survey of the building’s characteristics is on the documentation of the building, but it also takes into account the changes made in the building as well as the background and regional history of construction.

Building documentation

In the documentation report, we describe the current situation of the building and the changes made in the building.  Documentation is often used in connection with demolition sites when the building is not culturally and historically significant, but there is still a desire to document it for future generations.

Other reports

In municipalities, it is also possible to carry out inventories and valuations of buildings of a certain building type, such as education, public administration or commerce. In the inventory, we go through the local representatives of the building type to create an overall picture. The overall picture takes into account the number, age distribution and values of buildings. By valuing buildings, we can highlight the most important and representative examples of buildings from different eras and identify the sites that can be abandoned. The study will make it easy to develop the local service network in the future.


Hanna Ojutkangas


Kaisa Winblad


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