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Characteristic of the Olęder architecture

The scientific interest in the Olęder architecture dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. B. Schmidt in the inventory of Malborska and Sztumska land was the first to notice its individual character and tried to determine its different types[1]. This issue was further developed by O. Kloeppel, who completed the Schmidt's typology[2]. He tried to present the origin and the development of the Żuławski house, dividing it into the arcade house (with three sub-types) and the Dutch house with residential and farm sections under one roof (also subdivided into three types). The Kloeppel's typology was approved by researches and is still used. The earliest known preserved houses related to the Olęder colonisation date from the second half of the 18th century. Forms of these buildings probably referred to houses developed in Friesland on the turn of the 15th and 16th century, from where they arrived on the Prussian territory[3].
We know three basic layouts of the Dutch house: the lined homestead (Langhof), the corner homestead (Winkelhof) and the cross-shaped homestead (Kreutzhof). In the first type the residential section, the cowshed and the barn were lined up. If they were of the same height and width they were covered by a common roof. In the Winkelhof layout the barn, being the last element, was built crosswise, giving the building the shape of the letter L. The third type, Kreutzhof, is T-shaped. The arcade buildings were also subdivided into three types: building with gable arcades, building with gable arcades and an additional side wing, and building with arcades in the ridge wall, forming an extension. In the mid-19th century this form started being transformed into a veranda[4].
The location of the homestead with regard to the road is varied, as the shape of the parcel depended on natural conditions of the terrain. The most often the residential building, connected with the cowshed, was situated with its ridge facing the road. The barn was positioned with its gable to the road, near the house. If there were other outbuildings, they were situated parallel, thus creating a yard. Small gardens were located close to the cottage and a tree often grew at the entrance[5].
In sites dating from the 19th century we can observe a tendency to impoverish the form. All elements have the same structure, height and width. The number of rooms is reduced, the barn is separated[6]. The last stage of division consisted of separation of the residential building from other farm buildings, which were then placed around the yard.
Olęder houses have a two-bay layout. The main entrance is located in the front wall and leads to a hallway[7]. The shape of the hallway and other rooms depended on the fire system. Such houses the most often had a bottle-shaped chimney.
In the 19th century the hallway becomes an elongated passage corridor separated from the kitchen. Next to it, four equal rooms are located, only two of which, situated next to the stove, are heated. In the second half of the 19th century the chimney with the 'black kitchen' disappears and the resulting layout consists of a kitchen hallway and one room in the entire house[8].
This architecture was also characterised by the so-called elders' rooms, located in the gable wall.
The loft was an important element of an Olęder house. Originally it was used for storing hay and keeping the property and animals during the flood. The farm section included all the elements of a homestead - a cowshed, a stable, a pigpen, a hen house and a barn[9].
Buildings were constructed on artificial hillocks, the so-called terps. The length of the buildings varied from 25 to 50m, and the width from 7 to 10 meters. The proportion of the wall to the roof amounted from 1:1.5 to 1:2.5[10].
The house was erected on a foundation made of large fieldstones bonded with lime. On the foundation the ground sill made mostly of oak wood was placed. Walls were wooden, made of pine or poplar logs, connected longitudinally with dowels. In long buildings the corner-notched structure was combined with a tenon-post system. The frame structure was characteristic for the area of Żuławy. The roof had a collar beam or a collar beam with king post truss and was covered with hay or cane, later replaced by roof tiles. The gable was planked vertically and decorated with pazdurs and weather-cocks.

[1] B. Schmid, Die Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler derProwinz Westpreussen, Bd. 3, H. 13, Kreis Stuhm, Danzig 1909; idem, Die Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler des Kreises Marienburg, Danzig 1919.
[2] O. Kloeppel, Die bauerliche Haus-Hof und Siedlungsanlage im Weichsel-Nogat Delta, Danzig 1924.
[3] The development of this form on the territory of Friesland is described by M. Warchoł. Compare: M. Warchoł, Budownictwo olęderskie nad środkową i dolną Wisłą, "Przegląd Regionalny", R. 2, 1996-1997, no. 1, p. 61-63.
[4] E. Okoń, Próba typologii budownictwa holenderskiego w świetle zebranych materiałów na terenie województwa bydgoskiego. "Materiały do dziejów kultury i sztuki Bydgoszczy i regionu." Bydgoszcz 1996, vol. 1, p. 111-114.
[5] Such layout is schematic and it had different variants. If the building was situated with its gable facing the road the layout of the homestead was inverted while preserving the same elements. Compare: M. Warchoł, op. cit., p. 59.
[6] It was influenced by a better protection against fire and the will to get larger usable surface. Compare: M. Warchoł, op. cit., p. 63.
[7] The hallway in the Olęder architecture is always pass-through. The most often it is connected with kitchen and forms one room with it. Divided by a partition wall, the kitchen is located in the back bay, thus forming a separate room. Compare: M. Warchoł, op. cit., p. 64.
[8] A detailed description of the internal layout with regard to the forms of early colonisation and of the 19th century colonisation is given by M. Warchoł. Compare: Ibidem.
[9] The farm section occupied usually over 50% of the surface of the entire building. Compare: Ibidem, p. 66.
[10] Ibidem, p. 68.

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