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Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme

Grant recipient Oxford Brookes University

Total awarded $6,057,000

Years 2020-2026

Funding area Recording cultural heritage

Priority Heritage sites

Programme site

The Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme, hosted by Oxford Brookes University, awards grants to document traditional practices of creating and maintaining wooden buildings.

Many of these skills are being displaced by modern building methods. Wood is susceptible to weathering, and manufactured materials often replace traditionally-worked wood when it needs to be fixed. Also, some trees used for traditional structures have become rare because of deforestation and climate change.

The Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme makes permanent records of these fragile structures freely available online. Records include 3D digital models and oral histories as well as photographs, drawings and videos. The programme’s partner CyArk provides training in 3D documentation methods and support for the special equipment required. 

In addition to helping communities preserve the knowledge to maintain their wooden buildings, the programme aims to inspire a new generation of architects and engineers who are rediscovering timber as a sustainable building material.

Since it started in 2022, the programme has awarded 29 grants.

The call for expressions of interest opens each September with a deadline of late October. Details are available on the programme’s website.

Project examples

The conical stick houses of the Hamer people

People of the Hamer Woreda in Ethiopia build unique conical field huts. The buildings also exhibit a code system which lets locals who can read the buildings know the status of the occupant. Due to industrialisation of the region, traditional huts are now rarely built and rapidly disappearing. The programme is funding a project that will record the structure of these buildings, how they are built and with what materials. The project will also create village maps, and document occupation patterns of the area to increase the knowledge of this type of architecture. 

Documenting drum towers in the Dong village

The drum tower is the most important public building type for the Dong people, a marginalized minority group in southwestern China. The construction of, and rituals surrounding the drum tower constitutes the shared living heritage of this group, who have a distinctive oral-based culture. Recent pressures from the changing economy have led to the decay and destruction of these towers. Funding from the Endangered Wooden Archteiture Programme will help a project team work with Dong carpenters and other community members to document the drum towers’ cultural meaning.

The Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme is one of our five culture grant programmes. Grant programmes are hosted by trusted partners. Our partners help us to determine where our support is most needed and distribute grants to individuals and organizations.

Top banner image: Indonesian boatbuilding, a unique and threatened practice in South-East Asian maritime culture. Courtesy of the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme.